Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Lighting Way for Lost Lives ; Candelight Service Remembers Homeless Buried in 2012

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Lighting Way for Lost Lives ; Candelight Service Remembers Homeless Buried in 2012

Article excerpt

The constant feeling of loneliness is one of the most common phrases Luzada Hayes hears from her clients. Hayes, executive director of Aurora, helps people in Evansville's homeless community on a daily basis. Tuesday evening, she questioned the people sitting in the pews of Trinity United Methodist Church about whether they had ever felt lonely and how long the feeling lasted.

"Homelessness is a state of being, it's not just an adjective that describes people without a home or a label to be assigned," Hayes said. "It's men and women, boys and girls, families and youth, each with a face, each with a name. It's a very real condition that will last, until it's over."

Gary Austin stood in front of about 50 community members who gathered at the church the service to speak on behalf of three individuals. The gathering was for Aurora's annual Evansville Homeless Memorial Service to remember those of the Evansville community who have struggled and passed away while being homeless.

Aurora joined the National Alliance for the Homeless and other communities across the country in holding services adjacent to the winter solstice.

Austin, case manager for United Caring Shelters, said a service like this is the opportunity to celebrate meeting so many people.

"The three people that I came in contact with will always stand out in my mind just for their uniqueness," he said. "They struggled with life, yet they were survivors. Their lives were definitely taken too quickly."

Eighty-one candles were lit before the service to represent the individuals who have passed away since 1990. Nine more candles were added Tuesday night, and Hayes said she believes that's the most people who have died in one year since the annual observance began in Evansville in 2000.

While names were being called and new candles lit, Hayes welcomed anyone who knew the person to step forward and say a few words of remembrance.

"Some of the candles are taller, some are shorter, because some of the folks have passed much too quickly, their lives being cut short often because of the effect, consequences and results of homelessness," she said. …

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