Friday, March 1, 2024

On longest night of year, Virginia Beach to hold vigil for those who died homeless

Virginia Beach Homeless Persons Memorial Vigil (Courtesy of Jasmine Ciesielski)

VIRGINIA BEACH — Across the country, communities are encouraged to hold a ceremony on or around December 21st for National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day. Each year, on the longest night of the year, a bell tolls for those who have died homeless in Virginia Beach.

“This event is a time to not only remember the members of our community who have lost their lives while on the street, but to also reflect on the challenges people face when they have no place to call home,” said Pam Shine, homeless system manager with the Department of Housing and Neighborhood Preservation. “We hope to raise awareness of this issue so that more citizens will join the community effort to make homelessness rare, brief and nonrecurring so that no life is lived or lost in homelessness.”

Homeless people are three times more likely to die than the general population. According to the National Health Care for the Homeless Council, homeless people experience illnesses rates three to six times higher than those with homes.

Virginia Beach has a winter shelter program where different facilities provide overnight shelter during the cold winter months. For information on the participating shelters, click here.

The public is invited to attend the Virginia Beach candlelight vigil and memorial service at The Lighthouse Day Support Services Center on Thursday from 7-9 p.m. As each name is read, a bell will toll in remembrance. The names will also be written on rocks and placed in The Lighthouse’s memorial garden.

The service is sponsored by the Virginia Beach Human Rights Commission, the Department of Housing and Neighborhood Preservation, and the BEACH Community Partnership.

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