Memorial to honor lost lives of homeless

yamaro@mercedsunstar.comDecember 19, 2012 

— A Homeless Person's Memorial observance will take place from 2 to 4 p.m. Friday at the Open Air Theatre at Applegate Park to honor the lives of those who have died on the streets.

Golden Valley Health Centers is organizing the event in partnership with the D Street Shelter, said Juan Villa, Golden Valley homeless program coordinator. This will be the first time such an event will take place in Merced County.

The National Coalition for the Homeless has sponsored the memorials since 1990, and they take place annually in more than 150 cities and counties across the country on the first day of winter, according to Golden Valley.

The shelter has conducted similar, smaller memorials in the past, Villa said, but nothing on a large scale.

Organizers are hoping to attract homeless and formerly homeless people, advocates, service providers, city officials and other members of the community. "Hopefully they are able to come and remember some of those old friends," Villa said.

Pastries, hot chocolate, care packages and a limited number of coats will be given away during the event, he said. Golden Valley staff began collecting coats early last month in Merced and Stanislaus counties.

Golden Valley decided to introduce the event in Merced County after being involved in the memorial in Stanislaus County, Villa said.

Golden Valley has a mobile clinic for the homeless stationed at the D Street Shelter's parking lot. It provides health care for the homeless on Tuesdays beginning at 3:30 p.m, Villa said. It also has a homeless clinic in Stanislaus County, he said.

According to list compiled by Golden Valley, 21 homeless people have died this year in Merced County.

Reporter Yesenia Amaro can be reached at (209) 385-2482 or yamaro@mercedsunstar.com.

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