A Homeless Persons’ Memorial Service will be held on December 19 at 2 p.m. to commemorate the lives of those who died this year while homeless. The service will be held at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Asheville at the corner of Charlotte Street and Edwin Place. The public is invited to attend. The event is co-sponsored by the Asheville-Buncombe Homeless Initiative.
The service will include the reading of the names and stories of each person who died while homeless this year and the opportunity to speak in tribute to them. Reverend Mark Ward will speak, and local band Left of Center will perform an original song written for the event. Following the service, the church will host a free potluck dinner and special Left of Center concert.
In addition to the service, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Asheville is sponsoring a Winter Warmth Drive to distribute socks, hats, and gloves to people currently experiencing homelessness in Asheville. Please bring your donations directly to the service or contact Emily Ball at 259-5733.
About 550 people are without housing on any given night in Asheville, according to Amy Sawyer, Homeless Initiative Coordinator. Deaths in the homeless community are often the result of hate crime violence, inadequate access to health care, or lack of shelter during harsh weather. The National Health Care for the Homeless Council reports that the average age of death for people experiencing homelessness is about 50 years, versus 78 years for non-homeless Americans.
For more information about the Homeless Persons’ Memorial Service, contact Gene Zimbalkin at 299-8000.
For more information about the Homeless Initiative, contact 259-5733 or 259-5851 or visit www.ashevillenc.gov/homeless.