2019 Homeless Memorial Walk

12/18/19

Written by Kahlulee

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Today I marked another day as an AmeriCorps member. It was a special day because we gathered to memorialize those that have died this year while homeless. The event took place at the Interactive Resource Center (IRC).

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Maddie, Gloria, and I, along with Julie’s guidance, helped bring the Memorial Homeless Walk to life. It involved the proclamation of the city government to first recognize a Day of Remembrance for people who are homeless. The official day is on Winter Solstice, December 21st.

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People arrived around 4:30 for a meal provided by the Gillespie Grill. Mayor Vaughn gave a speech as well as other members of the community including Partners Ending Homelessness, the Greensboro Urban Ministry and the Homeless Union.

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For me, one of the most memorable speeches came from a person who had experienced homelessness first hand. In his speech he recalled Maslow’s Hierarchy. It is a model of human development represented by a pyramid. At the base of the pyramid is our most crucial need- to have a home and feel safe. It is the first step into achieving self-actualization, the pyramids pinnacle. Camera crews were there too and published a story in the Greensboro local news News & Record and Spectrum News.

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AmeriCorps members handed out stickers to attendees with the names of the ten people we had a record of who died while homeless in Guilford County this year.

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As we walked down the side walk, candle in hand, we reflected on those who had passed. We also talked and met new people. I met the shelter director of the Greensboro Urban Ministry and had a nice chat with him about solving homelessness.

At the half way mark, Gloria read her poem entitled “It’s Winter All Year Long.” She stood on a large stone tablet-like bench and read it to us. It was written as if she were in the shoes of someone who is homeless and was quite moving.

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We continued on our route. At one point there were police officers on bicycles at a main intersection to see us safely across.

We ended the walk back at the IRC with a Circle of Hope, sending our light and love to people in need.

The event opened my heart and I feel more compassion and understanding for people who are homeless.

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My final words to attendees were that we hoped to see them again next year. That is not my hope for next year. My hope is that next year a different call to action is agreed upon. A call that starts with all people being safely housed, the proclamation that no one died that year while homeless, and ends with self-actualization.

Thank you to all who participated.

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Reflection by Jeff, resident at Peacehaven Community Farm

On Wednesday, December 18, 2019 on a cold night in Greensboro, NC Jake, Anne, Ben, Temeca and I joined with AmeriCorps for folks who passed while living on the streets. We had a great dinner and enjoyed Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughn’s words of forgiveness.

At the event between 50-60 folks joined us at the IRC. I experienced a man in a wheelchair saying thank you. Fox 8 was there broadcasting live. I saw a bunch of people in cars that were confused by our walking and advocating for people who are homeless.

At the government plaza AmeriCorps member Gloria read an amazing poem that she wrote saying that we need to be safe. I had both happy and sad tears. Here is why: sad because there was a lot of people that didn’t have anything; the happy side was because it was a great cause and the News and Record put the walk on the front page and posted pictures online.

It was a challenge for me to focus. Homelessness is a hard topic to talk about. If I remember correctly, my late Aunt Mary would bring the homeless people McDonald’s in New York City.

My big goal is to stop this happening by feeding the homeless and letting them know that something big is going to happen. I remember watching two YouTube videos. The first one was a classical piano player disguised as a homeless man in the airport where he played the piano in, I believe, a different country. In this video I was surprised to see, I believe, a young girl’s reaction. In the video he was playing Rachmaninov. If you are having a sad moment or a bad day listening to calming music like Beethoven and other classical music is helpful. The second video made the news when, I believe, a homeless man made the news, I think because he wanted a job. He was known as the golden voice. One time in Greensboro, I believe a saw a homeless sign saying honk for Jesus. I was in the car with someone and was surprised at the honking. Finally, there are support groups that help folks find and job in everyday life.

I conclude with a song from Leonard Bernstein’s musical theater piece, “West Side Story”. The tune is called “Somewhere”. There is a powerful message in it. The main characters sing about being from somewhere. I like the part when the words say, “There’s a place for us”. What that means to me is that folks who are living without much need help to find a place and get a job.

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Reflection by Anne from Peacehaven

I got to help other people last night. I passed out food. We invited people who were out in the cold to come inside. We had a good time together. Me and my neighbor Temeca talked with new people during dinner.

During the speeches people at the event were given an opportunity to speak. I spoke to the group about going to a nursing home and helping out.

I walked with Gina and Maddie, an AmeriCorps member, and some other people during the walk. We carried candles that I helped pass out.

I want to help take care of people who are homeless and hang out with them.

We were also on Fox 8 and the front page of the Greensboro News and Record.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Love Anne.

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Reflection by Ben from Peacehaven

Peacehaven went walking while holding a banner. The banner was recognizing people who are homeless.

We ate a meal and drank iced tea before the walk. We ate the meal at the IRC provided by the Gillespie Grill. We ate chicken, rice, green beans and a roll. It was good. We talked with people during dinner mostly AmeriCorps members and their families.

It was cold outside during the Walk. I wore two layers of clothing but I was still cold. I feel love for people who have to sleep outside.

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