ASHEVILLE NC – A memorial service to commemorate the lives of those who died while homeless in Asheville and Buncombe County will be held on December 21 at 12:30 p.m. at the Haywood Street Congregation, 297 Haywood Street in downtown Asheville. The memorial service is co-sponsored by the Asheville Buncombe Homeless Initiative, the First Presbyterian Church of Asheville, and the Haywood Street Congregation.
The public is invited to attend. Donations of coats, hats, scarves, gloves and blankets will be accepted at Haywood Street Congregation beginning at 9 a.m. A free community meal will be held at 11:30 a.m.
The memorial service precedes the longest night of the year. An average of 20 people die while homeless every year in this community. The memorial service will include the reading of the names and stories of each person who died while homeless this year and the opportunity to speak in tribute to them.
To show unity, downtown businesses and residents are invited to place a poster or candle in their window. The poster is linked at the www.ashevillenc.gov/homeless website under the Events section.
Deaths in the homeless community are often the result of hate crime violence, inadequate access to health care, or lack of shelter during harsh weather. Local community response to harsh weather can be seen in the CODE PURPLE alert adopted by shelters and emergency providers, expanding services to ensure that everyone has a safe place to get inside during sub-zero temperatures.