December 24, 2017 10:20 AM
The Chum Food Shelf honored homeless people in Duluth and their advocates who lost their lives over the past year on Saturday. They held their annual Christmas Eve Vigil held on the steps of the Duluth City Hall.
Each year they read the names of the people they lost and light candles in their honor.
"We remembered 44 people who have been homeless either at our shelter or outreach, that we've worked with plus two of their strong advocates," Lee Stuart, with Chum, said.
Their average age is only 47-years-old.
"It's just heartbreaking, but it's so empowering at the same time to see the community come together," Tiffany Gunderson, with Life House, said. "It's nice to remember those that may not have a family around here just so they know that they're loved."
The people they've lost are ones they've come to know and love through their work.
"It's a loss for not only the whole community, but myself. I mean we know these folks," Deb Holman, with Chum, said.
"I knew about half of them this year and last year I knew a lot more of them," Gunderson said. "It was very hard."
The vigil is a way to honor their memory but to also continue the work and give back.
"It's a time to remember our generosity, to remember the spirit of giving, and the spirit that we're all born in the image and likeness of God and that we need to do a better job taking care of each other," Stuart said.
Chum said each year they're making progress.
"Usually half or more were still homeless when they died, for us it was only about 1/3 this year and that is really good," Stuart said. "That means that we've been able to get people into housing and that's terrific."
They hope they can eventually end it all together.
"Duluth is a city that can end homelessness," Holman said. "There's a lot of good work going on, I think we have the means and the will to end it, so let's end it."
With the cold weather coming they are reminding people that may be homeless to find shelter, and if you see someone in need, you can call the Chum Center at 218-461-8505.
Updated: December 24, 2017 10:20 AM
Created: December 23, 2017 05:23 PM
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