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Memorial to Recognize Homeless Deaths

Every year, Project HOPE honors the homeless men and women who have passed away — inviting the homeless community to mourn too.

As the days turn colder and Concord's homeless population faces a season of life-threatening conditions, a local non-profit will host a memorial to mourn those who have already lost their lives this year.

The 8th Annual Homeless Memorial will be held Friday, Nov. 9, 2012 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Concord United Methodist Church. The memorial has been organized and hosted for the past eight years by Project HOPE, a homeless outreach program run by the Concord-based Anka Behavioral Health, Inc. (Anka).

The purpose of the gathering is to bring the community together to remember and celebrate the lives of the homeless men and women who have passed away during the last year, according to an Anka press release.

This year, the service will recognize 35 men and women who died while living on the streets or in encampments, as well as those who were formerly homeless or homeless service providers and advocates.

In past years, more deaths have been added to the list during the memorial service, according to Anka, as members of the homeless community share the names of allies, friends, and family members they have lost.

"Despite the prevalence of homelessness, people without homes still face stigma and a lack of access to basic services," according to Anka. "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."

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. There will also be an 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.

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