Annual Homeless Memorial returned to an in-person gathering at Forest Lawn on the longest night of the year.
For more than a decade, the Long Beach Homeless Coalition has hosted an annual memorial to honor the lives of every person who passed away throughout the year while living in Long Beach without housing. As each name is read, a single candle is lit in their honor.
“Tonight, many of the words that were shared during the memorial reminded us that this gathering only exists because of an ever-present problem that despite the efforts of so many people and agencies and entities remains unsolved,” Paige Pelonis, President of the Long Beach Homeless Coalition said. “And so this year, we asked everyone to take a candle home with them. We asked them to keep them lit and let them burn all the way out so that the moment in memoriam could last a little longer. It’s a beautiful tradition, and I love that my home is a place filled with people who care so deeply about every single person who also calls it home.”
This year, 99 names were read from a list provided from the Long Beach Multi-Service Center, and an additional five individuals were mentioned by community members who knew others who had also passed away, bringing the total to 104 lives memorialized.
The memorial has for many years taken place on the night of the Winter Solstice, the longest and often coldest night of the year. Last night’s vigil was the first to be held in person since the 2019 memorial, as the Coalition hosted them virtually the last two years.
To create a space for the lives remember at last night’s memorial to continue to be honored and celebrated, CityHeART’s backyard garden will be unveiled in the new year as the CityHeART Memorial Garden.
“People like to have a quiet place to sit and feel close to their loved ones who have died,” Kevin Richard, CityHeART Garden Coordinator said. “My vision for the garden is that anyone who has someone who’s passed away can dedicate a small plant or something in our backyard to that person, and then they have a place they can come to visit if they can’t be where they were formally laid to rest.”
More information about the CityHeART Memorial Garden will be shared in the new year.
By Art from Ashes