National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day

Every year on December 21st since 1990, The National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH) has sponsored National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day to bring attention to the tragedy of homelessness in our country and to remember our homeless brothers and sisters that passed away due to our nation’s failure to end homelessness.

December 21st is not only the first day of winter but it is also the longest night of the year for our brothers and sisters who are sleeping in the streets. I like to take a moment of silence and remember all of the men, women, and children who died this past year………

All of the homeless people that passed away this year were someone’s brother, sister, sibling, mentor, teacher, husband, wife, co-worker or friend. The folks that passed away were HUMAN BEINGS and it is such a tragedy that we gather every year on this date to pay tribute to our SOUL-DIERS who were left to die in the streets. Many of the people that passed away struggled to be RECOGNIZED, RESPECTED, AND TREATED WITH DIGNITY. A nation that is so powerful like the United States and yet so powerless when it comes to respecting people’s human rights is clearly a tragedy.

Every day we have a chance to prevent a homeless person from “dying.” If we treat homeless people with RESPECT and DIGNITY we are not only acknowledging that they are human beings but in our interactions we are making them “live.” People die everyday of solitude. If we are able to shake people’s hands, have eye contact, call them by their first name, smile at them, pray for them, break bread with them, all of these gestures are saving homeless peoples’ lives every single day. It is important that when we encounter homeless people, we do everything possible to make them FEEL at HOME. We make people FEEL at HOME by acknowledging them. By calling them by their first name instead of homeless, drug addict, lazy bum. People are at HOME when they can see they are being respected and not judged at. We may not give every homeless person money or food but if we give them our time and if we listen to them, then we have done our part. In my experience with homeless people, I have found that listening to their experience is one of the greatest gifts that i can give them. There is nothing more fulfilling than taking some time of your schedule to listen to someone’s story. Let us do our part so that homeless people don’t die of solitude.

I wrote a poem about 6 years ago in honor of the homeless people that passed away without no one remembering them. It’s in Spanish, so I apologize for those who don’t read Spanish. I wrote it in Arica, Chile where I organized the first homeless candlelight vigil.

MORIR DE SOLEDAD

Lo mas terrible
que un ser humano
puede experimentar
es
morir de soledad.

Saber que no es
querido ni valorado
es algo a lo que los
desamparados
desgraciadamente
se han acostumbrado.

A ser aislados
por nuestra sociedad
porque
su
presencia
estilo de vida
enfermedad
es un cargo para la cuidad
ellos solamente han querido
vivir su vida en la tranquilidad
con personas que les entreguen
su amistad
y les den
la oportunidad
de salir de esta oscuridad
y encontrar la felicidad.

Les han robado
su derecho
de vivir
con dignidad
ya que nuestra sociedad
parece que no
se preocupa
de entregar
amor a la humanidad
y siento que les gusta
ver a los mas pobres
vivir en la oscuridad
porque si hubiera
justicia y solidaridad
muchos no estarian
viviendo en las calles
de esta ciudad,
pero de a poquito
ellos se van
moriendo de soledad.

Esta es la situacion
que vive un indigente
en el presente
y le da tristeza
ver a su propia gente
que la sociedad
les haiga
contaminado
su mente.

Nuestra sociedad
ha ignorado
la filosofia
de ver
a Cristo disfrazado
en los mas necesitados
y uno no puede
tenerle fe a
San Alberto Hurtado
si no se preocupa
de ayudar
a los mas desamparados
ya que el dedico su vida
ayudando a los
mas marginados.

Nuestra labor
es no dejarlos que tengan
mucho dolor
si no que sepan
que hay gente
que les entrega
mucho amor
y asi podran vivir
su vida con mucha felicidad
porque cuando ellos mueran
podran morir
en la tranquilidad.

La proxima vez
que te encuentres
con un indigente
trata de llegar
a los mas profundo
de su corazon
y encontraras
a una persona
que te cambiara
tu modo de pensar
y no lo podras explicar
porque cada uno
lo tiene que experimentar.

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