Homeless Memorial Day 2016


Aggie Hoskins and Chip Joseph

Peter Schindler, Tim Walters, and David Dombrowiak

The Homeless Memorial Day in Cleveland took place on December 21, 2016 at West Side Catholic Center and we had around 120 people attend.  We read the names of 103 people who passed away over the last year and spent time homeless.  We had Senator Sherrod Brown as our main speaker who brought warm wishes to homeless people and talked about the release of the federal Continuum of Care funding from the federal government.  Senator Brown sat and talked with the guests and had to be pulled away to start the program.  We heard prayers from Doug Horner of St Pauls Community Church who made the front page of the Plain Dealer as well as Rabbi Joshua Carruso of Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple.  Drew Genzsler the CEO of Lutheran Metro Ministry and a Chaplin in the Navy gave a Central American Prayer for the dead. 




There was some good coverage of the story in the Plain Dealer including a great slide show of the participants. WKSU had a nice story as one of the local NPR affiliates talked to a resident of the Women's shelter who lost her room mate who drowned. 

Jennifer Kocan, NEOCH Board Treasurer read the names of those who passed away at the Memorial.  Sue DiNardo, former staff at West Side Catholic, was memorialized as well as those who died while spending some time homeless in 2016.  We read the names of 103 people which was the largest number in the 30 year history of the Memorial in Cleveland.  From reading 7 names on Public Square in 1986 to the church memorials and now taking place at various meal programs.  This event attempts to make people aware of the homeless population in Cleveland and to remember our friends who died who in life are largely forgotten. 

We have posted the list at our In Memoriam page with all the names with the misspelling and duplicates removed.

Brian Davis

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Homeless Memorial Day Candlelight Vigil 2016

Homeless Memorial Day Flyer 2016

This is the 30th time that we have read the names of those who passed away in Cleveland.  We are doing this memorial during the day this year and we are honored to have Senator Sherrod Brown as our keynote speaker.  We are collecting the names right now and looking for some religious leaders to say a prayer at the Vigil.  All are welcome to attend.  We often forget about homeless people who are largely invisible.  We hold the memorial so that these same individuals are not forgotten in death. 

Brian Davis

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Posted the Names of Those Who Passed Away

We have posted the 69 names of people we read at the Memorial and the woman who passed away at the shelter last Monday night.  Here is a list of the names for 2015.  We also have a page dedicated to all the lists of names separated by year here

We had over 120 people attend the service.  We thank Dee Perry for hosting the event and lending her golden voice to reading the names.  We had Councilman Zack Reed attend the event to say a few words as one of the elected representatives who has the responsibility of preserving and expanding affordable housing in Cleveland.  The volunteers over at St. Malachi were busy preparing their Christmas meal at 6 p.m. on December 21 as part of one of the oldest meal programs in the City.

There were two individuals who offered a prayer for those who passed. Fr. Tony from St. Malachi as the host congregation and Deacon Larry Davis of the NEOCH Board offered a few words of from their own faith traditions.  I gave a few thoughts on the previous year in homelessness and seeing more people on the streets, more women at the Community Women's shelter and fewer beds available in Cleveland.  I talked about the Pope's visit to America and his call to serve the least among us. 

Finally, we gave a small token of appreciation to Chip Joseph who is retiring this year as director of Y-Haven.  Chip was also one of the first directors of the Cosgrove Center 20 years ago.  We will miss his advocacy for transitional programs and services for those with an addiction.

Brian Davis

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Homeless Memorial Day 2015


For the 29th time in Cleveland, we read the names of the people who passed away in 2015.  The same night we were reading the names of 68 people who passed away over at St. Malachi, Vickie Fann was quietly slipping away in her sleep over at the Community Women's Shelter.  Vickie had a long history of health issues and probably never should have been living at a women's shelter with her breathing machine.  When the other residents who regularly checked on her went to awake her in the morning she was gone.  Staff of the shelter did all they could, but she had passed away in her sleep sometime during the night of December 21. 

The Homeless Memorial is one of the more sombre and painful events of the Coalition.  We spend five weeks calling the shelters and social service providers looking for names.  We keep a list of those we hear about on the streets over the year, and we want to make sure that people are not forgotten in death as they are largely forgotten in life.  This year we brought in professional help to host the event with Cleveland's most experienced master of nearly every ceremony, Dee Perry of WCPN.  She has hosted Fourth of July with the Orchestra and MLK services at Severance.  She has done New Year's Eve and the lighting of the chandelier at Playhouse Square along with her work as the host of the Sound of Applause on WCPN and WVIZ TV.  Dee was gracious enough to lend her beautiful voice to reading the names of those who died over the last year. 

Councilman Zack Reed was our keynote for the event and we recognized Chip Joseph for his long service to homeless people upon his retirement this year.  Councilman Reed has had a great deal of contact with homeless people this year.  A couple of his constituents have called regularly to complain about having to sleep in the Women's shelter and his office has asked for help with people sleeping outside in his ward.  Reed served at the Cosgrove's Feast and Fellowship dinner for homeless people.  He also attended the Homeless Congress in November and vowed to at least get a response from the shelter and/or the County to all the problems over at the Women's shelter.  He agreed to come back in 2016 to talk about the ideas brought up by homeless people in 2015.   At the Memorial, he talked about all the people struggling in his neighborhood in the shadow of the prosperity being developed downtown.  Reed wanted a reorganization of the priorities in Cleveland to close the gap in the "two Clevelands" that he has become painfully aware of in his 15 years of elected service. 

Father Tony from St. Malachi and I talked about the message from the Pope about serving the least among us after Pope Francis's visit to the United States in 2016.  Deacon Larry Davis from the NEOCH Board gave a prayer for the dead and then we lit candles for the 68 names read at the service.  Before the service started we gave a small token of our appreciation for Chip Joseph, the current director of Y-Haven.  He was the former director of the Cosgrove Center and a huge advocate for homeless people, transitional shelters and services to addicts in our community.   The photo above is Fr. Tony standing next to Chip as the names are read joining 100 other Coalitions in marking this first day of winter.

Everyone gathered hoped that this was the last service, but we know that there will be more Vickie Fanns in 2016.   Any period of homelessness is really hard on a person's body.   The sleep deprivation, stress and inability to get a good meal on a regular basis is horrible on a person's health.  Bouncing around from one bed to another and the self medicating that so frequently goes on during homelessness reduce the lifespan of a typical human.   We will most likely be back on December 21, 2016 to read another list of names on Ohio Homeless Memorial Day.

Brian Davis

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Homeless Lives Remembered at the Cleveland Memorial

       Councilman Zack Reed will be our honored speaker at the 2015 Homeless Memorial Day in Cleveland and the event will be hosted by WCPN Sound of Applause Host Dee Perry.  The 29th Annual Homeless Memorial Day will take place on Monday December 21, 2015 at St. Malachi Social Hall 2459 West 25th St.  at 5:00 p.m. at the Hunger Center (Enter off of Main Street or from the parking lot behind the church). Ward 2 Councilman Zack Reed was elected to Council in 2000 after serving the Mayor’s office in San Francisco.  Reed recently attended the Homeless Congress to hear the concerns from homeless people and has regularly served at the Cosgrove Center Hunger Center for the Hands Up Gala.  This year before the ceremony we will recognize Chip Joseph of Y-Haven and previously at Catholic Charities as he retires.  We will have a number of religious leaders who offer a prayer for those who passed away, along with music.  We will light a candle as we remember those who passed away over the last year.   Media are welcome to attend and photograph the memorial/vigil.  

       We have seen increases in women who need shelter and families with huge barriers to stability asking for help while at the same time seeing a decrease in the number of available shelter beds.  We have seen a rise in the number of people sleeping outside in 2015, but have appreciated the break in the weather this last month after a rough time in January.  NEOCH will read the names of those who passed away over the last year at the Candlelight Vigil.

           Joining with other cities throughout the state and country, the Cleveland vigil will include a look back at homelessness in Cleveland.  In 2009, Ohio legislators designated December 21 as Ohio Homeless Memorial Day. Every big city in Ohio has a similar vigil to remember those who have passed away over the previous year.   We will read the names of those who passed away and had some experience with homelessness on Monday before the meal.  We typically have around 130 people who attend the memorial and we are honored to have Dee Perry as the host this year with Councilman Reed helping us remember those who died. 

        Locally, we have seen tightening budgets for a fourth year of federal cuts to shelters at the same time the need for shelter, food and services continues to increase.   Cuyahoga County absorbed a decrease of 10% of our federal funds over the last four years and federal support for housing has remained flat.  The Women’s Shelter has regularly 190 women in a facility with 130 beds and is every night running out of food.

       If you would like more information about the event, or you would like to schedule an interview with Brian Davis, please call NEOCH at 216/432-0540 or email Brian Davis at neoch@neoch.org.

Brian Davis

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NEOCH Membership Starts This Week

We Need Your Support for 2016!  Auction for Members Announced for December

Over the last year, NEOCH has accepted the responsibility of distributing donations as part of the SocksPlus Campaign giving out $72,000 in donations this last year.  It is with your help from your membership that we can provide these resources.  We are beginning our 2016 Membership campaign and hope that you will renew your annual support for NEOCH.   Your membership support helps us to coordinate outreach, market the affordable housing website and assist with the Homeless Stand Down.  For a $100 donation as part of your membership we can purchase a backpack with winter boots, a hoodie, long underwear, socks and a hygiene kit to keep people safe.  With a strong membership we can continue to support our advocacy and public policy work, and will help us to amplify the voice of those without housing. 

We are still working on advocacy and public policy recommendations to reduce homelessness in Greater Cleveland.  We are still working to improve the shelters and the conditions when the increasing number of families show up asking for help.  We still publish an updated Homeless Street Card and host the annual Homeless Memorial Day.  We have a regularly updated website packed full of information, and we schedule speakers for the affordable housing meeting while also conducting trainings of homeless service staff and volunteers.  We also continue to publish a Homeless Street Newspaper called the Street Chronicle that provides a steady job to 15 vendors.  NEOCH continues to send trained speakers to schools and religious groups to dispel some of the negative myths about homeless people.  New in 2015, we have an outreach trainee on site who assists people resistant to shelter and we distribute huge numbers of donated winter and rain gear to keep our friends safe. 

The Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless (NEOCH) is dedicated to the belief that through community action we have the power to change the institutions, policies and attitudes that create homelessness.  NEOCH believes that in the process of making change, we also build a community of access and opportunity.  When you contribute to NEOCH, you don’t just support the organization and its vital programs, but you support a mission to reduce the number who become homeless and decrease the time a family must spend without housing to days not months.

With your membership, you can login to our website and view the special content in the member section including our member only blog and member deal of the month.  If you make a donation during our membership drive in December, you can be entered in our special auction for members. For any $50 donation by December 31, 2015, your name will be entered into an auction in January for a chance to win one of the gift certificates or tickets donated by local businesses and arts organizations.  We have a Brown’s autographed football, or 4 tickets to the Botanical Garden, or 2 tickets to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, or 2 tickets to the Cleveland Orchestra, or the Lake Erie Monsters hockey tickets or finally 2 tickets to the Beck Center.  For more information check out our Member Auction on our website under Member Deal of the Month.  You can make a donation right from our website by clicking the “Donate Now” button. 

Some other updates:

  • The 15th Annual Woodchoppers Ball is at the Kent Stage on December 12 at 7 p.m. and all the proceeds benefit NEOCH. 
  • The Homeless Memorial Day is December 21, 2015 at 5 p.m. at St. Malachi.  All are welcome to attend. 
  • We are currently collecting donations as part of our SocksPlus blanket and cold weather campaign.  There is a flyer on our website that you can print out and distribute to get your workplace to do a collection drive.

We ask that you renew or become a new member of NEOCH today.   NEOCH needs your support this year because of the increase in family homelessness over the last three years and the number of couples and pregnant women we are finding living outside.  We are working with religious groups and social service providers to meet this large increase in request for shelter by parents and their children!  Your donation makes it possible for NEOCH to extend a hand up to those living in shelter or on the street.  We can keep you informed about issues and updates related to homelessness with our Bridge Support newsletter available by e-mail or on our website.  Just contact NEOCH staff if you want to be on our e-mail list.

Brian Davis

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Homeless Memorial Day 2014

It was a solemn event with around 150 people attending the service. We believe that this is the most important event of the year for the Coalition.  It is important to remember these individuals upon their death because society largely forgot about them in their life.  It was nice to see homeless people who were staying the night at the Metanoia Project to join with members of the Coalition at this event.  We need to thank City Council President Kevin Kelley attend and say a few words of encouragement to those gathered.  Kelley brought his family to stand and remember those who have died.  Rev. Mendle Adams gave a prayer for the dead and board member Michelle Russell read the names for the service.

Grover Anderson

Leigh Banks

Charles Beard

Shawn Black

Terrence Blair

Alfonzo Bradfield

Ralph Brandon

Marcus Brooks

Vanessa Canfield

Justin Coleman

Michaela Diemer

Laura Douglas

Lanny Guillion


William “Billy” Henry III

Pedro Hermayen    

Ronald Jarvis

Aaron Jones

“Big“ Eric Jones

William Kluter

Melvin Lewis

Sybil Linder

Eric McGrew

James McQueen

Richard Morrison

Phillip O’Connor   

Marilyn Owens


Elias Pedro

Matt Puzder

Khalil Reynolds

Antwan Smith

Paul Stafford

George Sterling

James Tanner

Brenda Walker

Demetrius Watkins

Leonard Williams

William Young






We had a surprising number of "friends of homeless people who passed away this year including board members, volunteers, teachers, or staff at a local social service agency.  We always include friends on our list of people we remember:

Patricia Burgess

Margaret Conway

Mickey Drotar

Ruth Fiala

Brent Forsythe

Tom Hoskin (Aggie’s husband)

Kathy Kelley

Merdine Morris

Donna Kelly Rego

Joe Schager

Jim Skerl

Sharon Thomas

Brian Stefan Szittai and Megan Wilson Reitz of the Catholic Worker Community provided the music for the Candlelight Vigil.  Thanks to Carl Cook and Tim Walters from the Metanoia Project for again hosting us for this 28th Memorial.   We join over 100 cities across the United States that are hosting similar events.  This is also part of the Ohio Homeless Memorial Day marked by similar services in Cincinnati, Dayton, Columbus, and Toledo. 

In a year of fighting, hardship and fear, there was one postive note in that this is the second year of decreases in the number of people we read at the Candlelight Vigil from a high of 73 in 2012 to only 40 souls this year.  

Brian Davis

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Random Thoughts

Dallas spent years in court and had to pay the legal fees of a local church over feeding of homeless people. Dallas had to pay $225,000 settlement to the Big Hart Ministries and are not allowed to restrict access to food. Are you listening Ft. Lauderdale and the other cities in Florida?

I came across a sad documentary about an advertising executive named Brian Davis from London England.  Not a good ending, but a poignant story about the in ability to find help with mental illness and substance abuse. 

HUD discusses the "Limitations" of their point in time counts then they proceed to make conclusions based on this limited data. 

"The good news is that, nationally, we are continuing to see decreases in key areas like homelessness among veterans and chronic homelessness."  This is incorrect.  It should say that we are continuing to see decreases on one random day of the year.  The problem with this data is that it is so flawed, no one should make any broader point except that on one day in January homelessness decreased. 

Remember the Homeless Memorial day and Candlelight Vigil is Sunday at 7 p.m. at Metanoia.  If you want to make sure that we read the names of individuals who may have passed away over the last year give us a call (216/432-0540) and talk to Joyce.   Please join us for this important event.

Who is going to pay for Permanent Supportive housing?  California and some other cities in the United States want to use Health care dollars to pay for housing.   As we have said many times, there were no long term plans for how to fund these programs.  The tenants are disabled and will not be able to contribute much to their housing, and are unlikely that they will move out.  They need 24 hours of case management and that is expensive.  So where will the money come from to support these units?  It is a good idea that health care dollars go to support these units, because without this housing these people would be living on the streets and using the emergency room.  The problem is that government does not always do what make sense especially in a timely manner. 

Thanks to Brian Henke for helping organize the 12th Woodchopper's Ball this weekend at the Kent Stage.  We made over $3,000 for the organization.  Brian is a fantastic guitarist and he has a number of CDs available for sale. 

Atlanta caught an alleged serial killer of homeless people.  The man killed four homeless individuals, two while they were sleeping.  The suspect was arrested for jumping a transit fare, and then identified as a suspect in two murders of homeless people.   After interviews, he was charged with the murder of two other individuals in Atlanta. 

Brian Davis

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Homeless Memorial Day 2014

We are right now collecting names for those who passed away over the last year.  We are looking for some diversity in the prayers provided by faith leaders, and preparing for this solumn event. 

We will be joined this year by Council President Kevin Kelley for this year's service.  We hope that you can attend on December 21 at 7 p.m. at St. Malachi/Metanoia Program in the social hall. 

Brian Davis

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Homeless Memorial Day 2014

Every year for the past 28 years, NEOCH has held a candlelight vigil to remember those who passed away while struggling with homelessness.   This year the Vigil will be:

at St. Malachi--Metanoia Project (enter off the parking lot in the back of the Recreation Center) on December 21, 2014 at 7 p.m.

This is part of the National Homeless Memorial Day and Ohio Homeless Memorial Day that is held in over 100 cities around the United States.  Right now we are collecting the names of homeless people who passed away.  It is during the busy holiday season, but it is respectful to pause and remember those struggling with housing.  We have the list of names from the past on our website here.

We will organize a ceremony to read the names and say a prayer that we do not have to read the names of people who die homeless in 2015.  The vigil is held at a program that serves homeless people so it is nice to have the service witnessed by people experiencing homelessness.  Members of the Coalition and the public are invited to participate.   Below is a flyer that you can distribute to friends.  

Candlelight Vigil Flyer

Brian Davis

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Another Nice Note to NEOCH

I believe that this woman read the names from our memorial page, but she could have watched the video that Brent did last year as part of the Homeless Memorial Day as well.  You can view it here.  We have our own channel on Youtube just search NEOCH.  We also have the complete list of people's names on our website here from the last decade.

August 1, 2014

Dear Mr. Davis:

Last Christmas I was searching for help for my homeless son (addicted to heroin). I ran across your website and was brought to tears [with] the number of homeless men and women who had passed away on the streets of Cleveland without even a hint of a whisper in our traditional newspapers.  You listed each and every person by name.  I read each name out loud and wept for them all--knowing they could be my son at any time. 

Thank you for your tireless work on behalf of the homeless and by giving them their dignity back by mentioning their names.  Continue to fight on for them. You give the homeless a voice and I thank you form the bottom of my heart for fighting for the rights of the homeless population.  Ware are all God's children. 

God Bless You

Maribeth (last name withheld for privacy reasons).

We thank Maribeth for her kind words. She included a funeral notice from her son who had passed away in June of 2014 at the age of 32.  We will include his name in the next Homeless Memorial Day vigil, and we extend our heartfelt condolences to Maribeth for the loss of her child.  I would add that some of the people we read last year were only children when they died.  I can think of two from last year's list who were only toddlers at their death.  Also, everyone on the list were children of someone, and we work everyday to protect someone's child and to eliminate the need for a December 21 memorial.

Brian Davis

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Names of those Who Passed Posted on our Site 2014

Thanks to Jay Westbrook as one of his last acts of official business provided a few remarks for our Homeless Memorial Day 2013.  The event was at St. Malachi on December 21, 2013 at 7 p.m. as the Metanoia project was getting started for the night.  We had Rev. Dr George Jackson from Agape Renaissance Center and Fr. Tony Schuerger of St. Malachi both offering prayers for those who passed away.  Jim Schlecht of Metanoia Project read the names of those who passed away, and I gave a brief look at the current state of homelessness.  We have a video on the front of our website of the entire service.  We also have a posted the names on our Memorial Section of our website.  

This is one of the saddest, but we consider one of the most important events of the year for the Coalition.   Homeless people are often forgotten in our society, and the least we can do is remember those people on their death.   We spend the last two months of the year gathering names from every social service provider and from homeless people.  This year, there were 20 fewer names read when compared to 2012 which is good news.  We had a very nice turnout of homeless people, housing activists, social service providers, members of the Coalition and board members who attended the memorial service. This is the 27th Candlelight Vigil in Cleveland.  From the beginnings on the cold winter days of December on Public Square to Trinity Cathedral and St. Paul's in Cleveland Hts. and St. Patricks church, we have held these vigils throughout the community.   We have read hundreds of names over the years and brought people together to mark a moment of silence in remembering our brothers and sisters we lost. 

Brian Davis

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Sad loss of life on November 29th in East Cleveland

As we prepare to remember those who passed away and we begin to collect the names of those to read on December 21, 2012, we were sad to see the news that two homeless people were killed in East Cleveland after a high speed chase and an overwhelming number of bullets.  We reserve making any statements on the situation in East Cleveland while we wait for the results of the investigation being conducted by law enforcement.  We agree with the families who want to see a federal investigation of this shooting.  We know that Malissa Williams and Timothy Russell were both homeless.  Staff did not know Mr. Russell, but we had contact with Ms. Williams a number of times.  We know that she smiled a great deal, and it was obvious that she had a mental illness.  We know that she was dressed in clothing that was way too big for her, and she seemed to live in her own world.  She had very little interaction with the others at the shelters, and was reluctant to engage people that she did not know.  She did not cause much trouble for the shelter staff. 

Both facilities that these individuals lived in most recently have metal detectors so if they did had guns they were not bringing them into the shelters.  One of the facilities has an armed police officer on the premise 24 hours a day, so it is unlikely that Ms. Williams had a weapon of her own while sleeping in the shelter.  We will include both their names as we read the names of those who passed away at the Metanoia Project at St. Malachi on December 21, 2012.  It is hard to understand how Ms. Williams could have been involved in this situation. 

Update: We have found that our board treasurer was the sister of Timothy Russell.  Michelle and the family are extremely upset and are asking for prayers from the public as they grieve.  I talked to a few workers from shelters who knew Mr Russell and said that he seemed like a calm guy.   Michelle said her brother was not violent, and did not have a gun.  This entire situation raises so many questions about excessive use of force.  We hope that the FBI can shed some light on the pursuit and the use of force against two homeless people.  The entire Board of the Coalition would like to express our deep condolences to the Williams and the Russell families.  We will hold a moment of silence at the Hand Up Gala in memory of our two friends. 

Brian Davis

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Candlelight Vigil December 21, 2012

The first day of winter occurs this year on Friday, December 21st.  It’s on this day, the traditionally longest night of the year, that the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless hosts its annual Homeless Memorial. The candlelight vigil is held for those who passed away this year and had previous experience with homelessness at some point in their lives or were friends of the homeless. You can visit /memoriam.htm to look over the names of those who’ve left us in years past.

The 2012 vigil will be the 26th held in Cleveland, and this year we are co-hosting the event with the Metanoia Project at St. Malachi Meal Site (off of the Superior Viaduct/Main street and West 25th St.) on December 21 at 7 p.m.  We have included a flyer on the event. Its purpose is to spread awareness of homeless issues and to make sure that not a single person who has struggled with housing is forgotten. The message this year is to demonstrate the value of street outreach and drop in centers in the fight against homelessness. During the vigil, we read the names of all homeless people we’ve lost.

We need your help in order to forget no one. We ask that you e-mail or call and leave us the names of anyone who had experienced homelessness (or was a friend of homeless people) who passed away since the December 21, 2011. This can be clients or just friends of yours or just someone you know who died after a period of struggling with their housing.   You can email us the information back at neoch (at) neoch (dot) org, fax us it at (216) 432-0620, or call us at (216) 432-0540 to tell us the names you have over the phone. 

We hope that you will be able to join us as we remember those who have passed away over the last year.  We will have a speaker, a few prayers from religious leaders, and then will read all the names.   all are welcome for the Homeless Memorial Day. This is recognized by the state legislature as Ohio Homeless Memorial Day and done in 100 cities around the United States. 

Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless