Homeless remembered in morning memorial | Community Spirit
At some point this year a man named Richard passed away, but his death went unnoticed and his life went uncelebrated. As the snow started to fall on Friday morning, Richard’s life, along with the lives of 38 other members of Spokane’s homeless community, was finally honored in a ceremony outside the CHAS Denny Murphy Clinic.
It was fitting that those who gathered to remember these lives that were lost gathered in the cold of the Clinic Courtyard. So many of Spokane’s homeless spend their days and nights out in the winter cold. In 2012 CHAS Clinics alone served 5,694 homeless in Spokane. Aaron Wilson, Chief Operating Officer for CHAS, said that number rose to over 6,000 in 2013.
Since 1990, the National Coalition for the Homeless has sponsored National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day to honor the homeless whose deaths go unnoticed each year. CHAS has been participating in the ceremony since 2005.
“They are part of our community,” said Wilson, adding this is one of the only times, if not the only time, that their passing in commemorated.
The list of those who have passed is compiled by several organizations that serve Spokane’s homeless community, including CHAS, The House of Charity and City Gate. John Murinko is the Pastor at City Gate and after sharing his own story of being homeless, he read the names of each of the 39 Spokane homeless that died this year.
“There are some who are not on this list, and we’ll never know who they really are,” said Murinko.
But for those we do know, a silver bell rang in their memory on Friday. Each bell had an individual’s name attached and when the name was read, the bell sounded in their memory before being placed on a tree.
Bruce Geer calls the streets home and today he hung a silver bell in honor of those members of his community that were lost. Geer said while there were some names he knew, there were many that he didn’t recognize. He has spent many days and nights sharing stories with others who are homeless and said it’s important to remember that while there are many sad stories to share, there are just as many happy stories that are shared as well. Geer hopes the men and women who were honored today can be remembered for those happy stories.
“It brings visibility to a group of folks that many of us walk by and don’t acknowledge,” said Wilson.
On a snowy Friday morning, just before the Winter Solstice, Richard and 38 others were finally acknowledged.