On December 21, 2012, NEOCH along with 105 cities in the United States remembered those who passed away over the past year. We have honored those by reading the names for the past 26 years, and 2012 we read the largest number of names in our history with 74 individuals passing. Some of the shelters that typically report one or two names had 12 names. We had suicides, murders, and most passing from the hardships of living without a home. We did not get all the ages, but from the one third that we did receive the median age of those who passed away was 46 years 2 months old. With the sleep deprivation, the high cholesterol food, and the stress, homelessness really takes a toll on your life expectancy.
We were honored to have State Represenative Nickie Antonio attend and say a few words to the 120 people who attended the memorial. It was nice that a number of providers from the Veterans Administration, West Side Catholic, Care Alliance, 2100 Lakeside attended the memorial. We also had Ruth Gillett from the County Office of Homeless Services and Doug Shelby from HUD attend to light a candle in honor of those who passed away. Fr. Tony from St. Malachi (pronounced Mal-a-key in the Irish tradition) blessed those who had died. Rev. Charlie Hurst from First Presbyterian and Charlene Higginbotham from Euclid Ave Congregational all said prayers for those we lost over the last year. We had some prominent deaths including Patricia Jackson who slept outside for years on the West Side of Cleveland, Timothy and Malissa who were killed by police in East Cleveland, and David Simmons who had volunteered for a number of programs after finding housing. We have to thank the Metanoia Project for all their help in allowing us to hold the memorial at their site this year. Metanoia is a winter overnight drop in site that opens the doors of St. Malachi to keep people resistent to shelter safe during the weekend, holidays and during snow storms. They open at 7 p.m. and provide a warm place, food, programs and a quiet place out of the snow. Thanks to Carl, Tim, Jim, and the rest of the staff and volunteers for providing this critical service in our community.
We have posted the list of names on our memorial page, and we will keep everyone in our thoughts and prayers as we enter a new year.