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Homeless to be remembered in candlelight walk

December 20, 2017 GMT

More than 20 people from the homeless community lost their lives this year, more than twice the number from 2016.

Thursday night, the first day of winter and the longest night of the year, they will be remembered in a 6 p.m. candlelight walk that The Rescue Mission says is often the “only commemoration of the life and passing of these persons.”

Reasons for the increased deaths among the homeless include natural causes, mental illness, lack of coping skills for dealing with trauma and addiction, the Rescue Mission said in a news release Wednesday. Some may be overwhelmed by hopelessness and also make poor choices for their health and well-being.

“2017 has been an exceptionally difficult year for the homeless community and those who work with people facing a homeless crisis,” the Rev. Donovan Coley, the Rescue Mission’s CEO/senior pastor, said in a statement. “This walk is a way to remember those people, and it is a special and emotional event for our staff, volunteers, and residents.”

The walk will begin at the Mission, 301 W. Superior St.. Participants will walk to Trinity English Lutheran Church, 450 W. Washington Blvd., for a short memorial service led by Trinity English’s the Rev. Dr. Gary M. Erdos and Pastor Sharon Gerig from the Rescue Mission.

The service will be followed by refreshments and participants can walk back to the Rescue Mission at their leisure.

Participants in the walk are encouraged to bring a candle or flashlight to carry, as well as donations of needed items such as heavy-duty gloves and men’s underwear.

Each year since 1990, the National Coalition for the Homeless has sponsored National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day to bring attention to the tragedy of homelessness. Hundreds of communities across the country recognize the event each year.