During a recent Homeless Memorial Day ceremony at Arch Street United Methodist Church, I had the privilege to stand in solidarity with my fellow Philadelphia advocates as we remembered the lives of our homeless friends that were lost this year.
It is a sobering feeling standing in a crowded church and listening to the names of more than 160 deceased homeless men and women being called out one by one. Many in attendance had been given signs bearing the names of those who had passed. As the names were announced, they were asked to stand in remembrance of that person.
When I had arrived I was given a sign. In the moments before I was called to stand, panic ensued. I’m not one who likes to stand out in a crowd. I like to blend in and go unnoticed. But soon I was on my feet and felt, what seemed like, thousands of pairs of eyes staring at me. I was counting the minutes until it was over.
But as I stood, I began to allow the nerves to wash away as I thought about why I was at the memorial and why this act of remembrance was so important. So many homeless men, women, and children are forgotten. They are the ones that go unnoticed and are forced into the shadows of our society. They are the ones that seem to blend into the city’s backdrop without being given a second glance. For me to stand, was a call for me to take notice. To notice the marginalized in our city – the hurting and the hungry – and to bring them from the shadows into the light.
Monday was National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day. This day is recognized on the longest night of the year. As some of the advocates shared that night, one member of the homeless community actually passed away due to hypothermia. We should remember the lives of the homeless friends we lost, and work to improve the lives of those who remain with us.
In the winter months, Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission operates as a 24-hour shelter when the city issues a Code Blue alert. These extra few hours of service are precious in the cold months and is one way we strive to change the lives of our neighbors in need.
As a few of the advocates at the ceremony so poignantly stated, the lives of our homeless neighbors are valuable and are worth fighting for.
Join the fight for homeless individuals throughout the Philadelphia area by sponsoring the services at Sunday Breakfast. Every little bit helps save lives!
I fall under the third category. Despite a hatred of the cold: I love the snow. It is beautiful and (even though people are terrible drivers) magical. But there is no “snow day” from being homeless. People don’t get to leave work early from homelessness.
At Sunday Breakfast, we try to make life a little easier for homeless men, women, and children in Philadelphia. Our Day Room is packed with men and women who are just looking for a warm place to spend the day. As an added touch of home: we are serving hot & hearty soup for lunch just like mothers everywhere on Snow Days. Later today we will even be projecting a movie on a wall of the Day Room. Who doesn’t love to stay in on a snowy evening and watch a movie?
As much as I love talking about snow (and trust me: I do), I have always been able to choose to come inside when my the tips of my fingers went numb. This is why, I want to share a poem with you by a member of our Overcomer program who has a passion for the written word. David Harlem is very imaginative kindhearted soul. So today, I leave you with a poem about the chill of winter from a formerly homeless and extremely creative individual.
Blue Norther David Harlem
thunders across the prairie
sharp as buffalo hooves;
hard as betrayal.
a defiant head;
tall grass bows
Father North Wind
satisfaction in his grim grey eyes.
has broken its treaty.