More than 300 homeless people, service providers, and clergy members gathered on January 29 at Beneficent Church at the Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless’s 13th Annual Homeless Memorial Service. The service memorialized the 31 people who died in the last year. Rabbi Alan Flam, president of the board of the Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless asked, “How can we properly commemorate these members of our human family who have passed on? What tribute shall we give them?
“I would like to suggest that one way to honor the dead is to bring life and hope to the living. Or, as Mother Jones put it, we must ‘pray for the dead, and fight like hell for the living!’
“First, we must gather, as we are doing today, to grieve the loss of these loved ones and to reaffirm our shared humanity with all its wonder and weakness.
“Second, we must continue our efforts to provide direct support and care for people experiencing poverty and homelessness in our midst. We do this by offering food, clothing, shelter, health care, treatment opportunities, and housing as best as we can with the resources we have. And we must do so with a spirit of hospitality, kindness and grace.
“And third, we honor the dead by working for justice – the kind of justice that enacts fairness and basic rights. All of us here today know that health care is a human right. That access to nourishing food is a human right. And that a safe place to live is a human right.”
Street Sights remembers and honors those who have died: Walter Bennett, Martine Bonsante, Robert D’Ambra, Diane Derosier, Chris Diehl, Karen Holloway, Ita Keaveney, Armand Landry, Paul Langlois, John Miller, Carlton Bruce Newkirk, Dominic Paola, Bob Pangborn, Nikailee Claire Pearson, Steve Perry, David Raymond, David E. Spears, Billy Spencer, Peter Silva, Chris Thweat, Donald Wall, Jeff Wells, William Matthew Wilds, “Hippie George,” Bobby J., Matt, Chris, Brenda,“Chief,” “Chihuahua,” “Sparky.”