Remembering the homeless

News | December 21, 2017

Huddled together in the brisk morning air in downtown Davenport, a few dozen people remembered those without a home in the Quad Cities.

The listened to 33 names, read aloud, of men and women who died this year. Sedrick and Richard, Rosanne and Amber. The ages of death – most in their 40s, 50s, and 60s – offered an indication of how homelessness can shorten lives.

Rev. Jay Wolin of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Quad Cities prayed.

“We gather together this morning in the cold of winter as people of many faiths, but we all know that 
Each human life is sacred
It is sacred in its being born.
It is sacred in its living
And it is sacred in its dying

We ask that you shelter us, as the cold winds howl in the night, chilling our hearts and rattling the windows of our souls. Help us to find new hope, when hope is hard to find, help us remember that we are not alone Remind us this morning and every morning that your blessing will show us the direction to the dawn of new day. Grant us, the strength and courage to answer the call to love, to find compassion in our hearts for all people.

Let us reclaim in this day and time a humanity that proclaims the inherent worth and dignity of all people. Grant us, too, the wisdom and humility that we might speak our truth and our joy and our sorrow with love We ask you to accompany us as we journey to the beloved community. By our presence here this day, this hour, we come together to pay tribute to the memory of those no longer with us. May our coming together bring each other comfort in the long days ahead. 
All this we ask in your name. Amen.”

A lack of affordable housing, health crises, mental illness and other serious problems cause hundreds of Quad Citians to be in a state of need, said Ben Cleaveland, president of the Shelter and Transitional Housing Council. He is a director at Bethany for Children and Families, where he works with chronically homeless families and teens, kids who are aging out of the child welfare system and high-risk families, among others.

The event, Ben says, “gives people a chance to step into their shoes, while at the same time providing some critical help.” Event organizers accepted donations of hats, gloves, scarves, coats and blankets throughout the morning vigil, which began at 7:30 a.m., and continued until 11 a.m.

A fire in a barrel helped keep them warm.

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