Each year SAMMinistries honors the homeless who have passed away with a special memorial service: this year there were 66. The annual candlelight vigil to honor the homeless will be held tonight -- the longest night of the year.
This year, there were 11 fewer homeless deaths than last year. SAMMinistries CEO Navarra Williams said community concern and good shelters are part of the reason, but there’s also greater outreach to find people when they need to get inside.
"They'll go talk to them and ask them if they would like to come get some food, shelter, and clothing, you know, all the comforts. But some folks decide that they don't want to. Either they may have some kind of mental illness or in some cases, that is the life they've decided that they're going to live right now," Williams said.
Homeless people die on the streets where they live, they die in shelters, and sometimes they die before they are born.
"Like a homeless mom that loses a child in utero. We know that now too. So we count those unfortunate babies," Williams said.
The 6th Annual Homeless Persons’ Memorial Candlelight Service starts at 7 p.m. in Milam Park at 500 W. Commerce. Williams said all are invited to come and show their support and asks community members to call SAMMinistries if they know of a homeless person who might be going without shelter when it’s cold.
Individuals can also call the following agencies to help: