Dec. 21 is the longest, darkest night of the year. For many people in Wenatchee, this means a long, cold night with nowhere to go.
We have a problem in Wenatchee. Our problem is that too many members of our community are without warmth and shelter during our winters, causing an innumerable amount to become traumatized and — in some cases — die from exposure.
Being homeless does not mean a person is necessarily “bad” or “mischievous”; in today’s economic climate, with housing rates showing little sign of dropping, homelessness knows no discrimination. Whether it is due to job loss, foreclosure or countless other reasons, too many men, women and children are without a home this winter. They are forced to live out of cars or backpacks, forging a portable life with little stability in order to raise a family or search for sustainable work.
But this Christmas season, we can do something to help. Wenatchee’s first Homeless Person’s Memorial Day will be observed on Friday, Dec. 21 at 3:30 p.m. in Memorial Park.
Our purpose is two-fold: to remember those who have passed, and to call the community to action. A dialogue with refreshments will be held after the vigil in the Wenatchee Regional Public Library. At the dialogue, participants can pick up a flier for the Women’s Resource Center’s annual Community Resource Fair on Jan. 24, one of the many ways we can continue to fight the issue of homelessness.
Since 1990, the National Coalition for the Homeless has sponsored National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day on the first day of winter to bring attention to the tragedy of homelessness and to remember our homeless citizens who have paid the ultimate price for our nation’s failure to address the issue of homelessness.
Joining in this national campaign is a way for Wenatchee to better the quality of life for its local citizens. This event is organized by Women’s Resource Center, a local agency that helps individuals and families experiencing poverty and homelessness with the housing and supportive services they need to be a part of a healthy community.
Alicia H. Bissonnette is a volunteer in Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest and an AmeriCorps affiliate serving at Bruce Hotel of the Women’s Resource Center. For more information on Wenatchee’s Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day, email her at email@example.com.