Last Friday almost a hundred members of the community, both homeless and housed, gathered at the Unitarian Universalist Church in St. Petersburg to remember the over 96 people who died on the streets of Pinellas County in 2022. The service featured remarks by local leaders, music, a procession to Mirror Lake, and reading the names of the people who died. The Friday Night Sunset Supper and a blanket distribution followed the service.
Below are images and more information about the event. The Tampa Bay Times article about the memorial service, “Remembering those who died while homeless in Pinellas this year” (tampabay.com), is an excellent description of the service and its effect on one homeless participant.Here are two upcoming volunteer opportunities:• With temperatures expected to dip into the 30s this weekend, cold night shelters are opening across Pinellas County. For more information and to volunteer, go to www.PinellasHomeless.org/coldnightshelters.
• The Celebrate Outreach Saturday morning breakfast can use volunteers on Christmas Eve (December 24) and New Year’s Eve (December 31). We serve from Praise the Lord Outreach Ministries, 900 MLK Street South, St. Petersburg FL 33705. Volunteers arrive at 7:30 AM, and we stop serving at 9:30. Please contact Deb if you would like to help.Have a great holiday season!
The service began with bagpiper Gemma Briggs filling the Unitarian sanctuary with the hymn “Abide with Me.” (L). Pastor Sam Picard of the Missio Dei Community officiated (Center), and St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch read a proclamation from the city and offered remarks (R). Others who spoke included Rev. Ben Atherton-Zeman (Unitarian Universalist Church of St. Pete); Monika Alesnik, PhD (Chief Executive Officer, Homeless Leadership Alliance) and Fr. Omar Reyes (St. Alban’s Episcopal Church). Jon Arterton and James Mack of the One City Chorus provided music.
Homeless aid volunteers Shelli Muncy of the Saint Teresa of Calcutta Catholic Community (R) read the names of those whose deaths were officially recorded and Rev. Bob Murphy (L) offered reflections. After a group of names was read, Eric Peters, homeless activist and Celebrate Outreach board member, lit a memorial candle. Following the list reading, people in the congregation called out names of homeless people who had passed and were not on the list.
Attendees carried a candle and flower to the edge of Lake Mirror, led by bagpipes and a list of the deceased. After a prayer, each attendee laid their flower at the foot of the list. St. Pete for Change were our safety marshals.
Following the service volunteers served meatloaf and sides at the regular Unitarian Friday Sunset Supper and distributed clothes and hygiene products.
Just in time for cold weather, volunteers also distributed the over 65 blankets donated by the residents of Lutheran Apartments during Celebrate Outreach’s Still… No Room in the Inn annual carol sing. A few of the grateful recipients are above.Thanks to everyone who organized, participated in, and attended this powerful annual event.