The Nashville homeless advocacy and service provider community held the Homeless Memorial December 14 at the Riverfront Park to remember more than 60 people who had experienced chronic homelessness at the end of their lives and passed away during calendar year 2013 (close to 50 were considered homeless when they died, and about a dozen had housing).
Charles Strobel, founding director of Room In The Inn, has participated in the Homeless Memorial for years.
“The crisis of homelessness is the crisis of death,” Strobel said. “The hundreds who have died over the years on the streets of Nashville are worthy of our remembrance and our work to provide housing for all. There is an inherent dignity in every human being that must be affirmed, even if there appears to be nothing in their lives worthy of respect or redemption.”
Lindsey Krinks, director of street chaplaincy and education with Open Table Nashville, said it was important for Nashville as a community to honor the people who lost their lives, often prematurely.
“These are our friends, our brothers and sisters, who are dying way before their time, and it is going to take all of us to prevent such deaths from continuing in the future,” Krinks said. “We’ve got to come together as a city and make it a priority to ensure that everyone has access to housing, healthcare, healthy food, and human dignity. If most of the un-housed people who died this year had access to these things, they would still be with us today. This isn’t about charity or sentimentality—it’s about life and death. It’s about justice.”
The goal of the Homeless Memorial is a way for people who experience homelessness, advocates, service providers, and interested persons to come together and remember.
This year, each participant will be given a lapel sticker that reads, ‘We Remember.’ The stickers were produced and donated courtesy of Room In The Inn.
Rachel Hester, executive director of Room In The Inn, said that this year’s Homeless Memorial was a chance for the entire community to come together and remember those who have been lost.
“I am excited that organizations that do good work apart from one another are coming together in a unique way to remember these individuals who were such an important part of our community,” Hester said.