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Bend ‘Longest Night’ vigil to honor those who have died experiencing homelessness

Homeless Leadership Coalition
Homeless Leadership Coalition

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- An outdoor vigil and procession is planned on Monday, Dec. 21 at 4:30 p.m. to honor our community members who have died while experiencing homelessness in Central Oregon this year.

Here's the rest of the announcement from organizers:

We will remember the 14 known individuals and hold space for those we’re not connected to or who passed in prior years. Gather - distanced and masked - in the Family Kitchen parking lot (231 NW Idaho Ave, Bend) at 4:30p and begin the short walk to Troy Field (51 NW Louisiana) for a simple memorial service.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the National Coalition for the Homeless “Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day.”

Vigils such as this one will be happening all over the country at the Winter Solstice – the longest night of darkness in our year – in order remember those who have died while living without a permanent home and to be reminded of the importance of preventing unnecessary deaths in our homeless community.

‘The Longest Night’ will be Central Oregon’s first Homeless Persons’ Memorial event.

The number of people experiencing homelessness in Central Oregon has nearly doubled since 2013, and we have one of the highest rates of unsheltered homelessness in the country.

On average, 28% of the US homeless population lacks access to shelter, compared to 70% of the homeless population in Central Oregon. On average, the life expectancy of people without homes is 30 years shorter than their housed counterparts, according to the National Health Care for the Homeless Council.

If you're able to make a donation in honor of those we've lost, please consider supporting REACH Out Central Oregon. REACH (Relationship. Empowerment. Action. Compassion. Heart.) is a non-profit organization that serves the community, providing assistance and outreach to residents in need.

The mission of REACH is to accompany individuals in vulnerable situations toward greater stability and independence. REACH provides a safe and trusted way to assist people with access to critical resources and referrals to local agencies. An essential tenet of their organization is meeting the homeless where they live and providing realistic solutions.

This event is a collaboration between:
Clergy for Justice, the Homeless Leadership Coalition, REACH, Bethlehem Inn, Family Kitchen, and Central Oregon FUSE.

Please bring a flashlight and candle. Dress in warm clothing. Masks are required.

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