Project HOPE’s 8th Annual Homeless Memorial will be held Friday, November 9, 2012 from 10:00AM – 1:00PM at the Concord United Methodist Church. The Memorial is planned and hosted by the community-based nonprofit, Anka Behavioral Health, Inc. (Anka), to remember the lives of the men and women who experienced homelessness and passed away in 2012.
Anka and Project HOPE have hosted this special memorial service for the past eight years, gathering the entire community together to remember and celebrate the lives of those who have passed over the last year. Of the 35 men and women being honored this year, many have passed while living on the streets or in encampments while others were formerly homeless or homeless service providers and advocates.
The number of those who have passed always increases on the day of the event as the homeless community often reveals additional individuals and honors their passing. From July 2011 to June 2012, 3,567 individuals in Contra Costa County accessed Anka’s homeless services programs. Of these numbers, 8% are youth (0-18 years), 71% are adults (18-55 years), 21% are older adults (55+ years), and 7.8% are veterans. Despite the prevalence of homelessness, people without homes still face stigma and a lack of access to basic services. Nationwide, homeless people are three to six times as likely to experience illness as people with homes, but are less likely to have access to appropriate healthcare services. Anka and Project HOPE work with the Contra Costa Continuum of Care, other homeless providers, and the community to increase awareness and provide shelter and services.
The Homeless Memorial will include a color guard composed of veterans, prayer, guest speakers from Anka, County behavioral health and homeless services departments, and homeless and veterans affairs advocates, and open forum in which attendees may share their personal memories about those who have passed. Lunch will be provided and all are invited to attend.
Shayne Kaleo, Anka’s Regional Director of Contra Costa County Housing and Homeless Services and coordinator of the homeless memorial, stated “Archbishop Desmond Tutu once said, ‘Everyone is precious, everyone matters’ – that is the spirit that the Project HOPE Homeless Memorial embraces and the mentality we want the public to remember when thinking about the hundreds of men and women facing homelessness every year in our community.”