Saturday Collection 12/26/09

On the day after we commemorate the night on which there was no room in the inn, it seems appropriate to dedicate the Saturday Collection to service around the country memorializing those who died homeless.

The Hartford Courtant:

Gloria Pimentel lit two candles Monday for Oscar Antuñez and Michael Colmer — homeless men who left an indelible impression on her before they died.

Standing before more than 200 homeless men, women and advocates at Trinity Episcopal Church, Pimentel, the program manager at McKinney Shelter, hoped that they, too, would remember Antuñez, who died last year the day after Christmas, and Colmer, who died in April.

“Oscar Antuñez, we’ll miss your smile and your honesty,” Pimentel said. “You died by yourself in the back of St. Peter’s Church on Main Street.”

The Virginian-Pilot:

Bill Mahoney was a Vietnam veteran who took Julie Burks under his wing and taught her the ropes of homelessness: how to clean up in the bathroom of a grocery store, which churches serve meals.

Demetria Grier had heart and mental health problems, but she loved to dance and sing gospel music, said her mother, Yolanda Cluke.

Karen Francis died about five years ago, but former boyfriend Charles Billingsley didn’t know it until about a month ago.

They are three of the 49 people who have died homeless in the streets of Virginia Beach since 1990 – about seven in the last year alone.

The St. Petersburg Times:

Their names were typed on little slips of paper and handed out to those who gathered in a downtown park to remember them on one of the coldest nights of the year.

They died homeless in Hillsborough County within the last year. Some could be identified only by a nickname. Others, as John Doe.

Most of their deaths went unnoticed by everyone but the Medical Examiner’s Office — until Monday’s annual Homeless Persons’ Memorial service in the Joe Chillura Courthouse Square.

The (Madison) Wisconsin State Journal:

For the 40 or so gathered in prayer Monday night, the bitter, subfreezing air whipping around the Capitol Square reinforced the plight of Madison’s homeless men and women.

The group gathered just after dark on the longest night of the year at the shelter at Grace Episcopal Church, then processed to a bench on the east side of the Square where Dwayne Benjamin Warren, a 38-year-old homeless man, was found dead in June.

“People like Dwayne should be remembered,” said Todd Hunter, a Downtown attorney who became friends with Warren not long before he died.

The Toldeo Blade:

Toledo homeless advocate Ken Leslie said that too often, such deaths go unnoticed; too often. a homeless person no longer has ties to family or friends.

“I tried to look for obituaries,” Mr. Leslie said.

“It’s almost like the world says they never existed. We want to make sure the world knows they existed,” he said.

The Cleveland Examiner also covered the service in Toldeo.

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