By STEPHEN O'KANE, Staff Writer | Published Thursday, January 6, 2011
The names of some 50 homeless men and women who died in 2010 were read aloud at the fifth annual National Homeless Persons Memorial Day Candlelight Vigil, held on Dec. 21 at the new Rawson Haverty campus of Saint Joseph’s Mercy Care at 424 Decatur St.
The event was held in collaboration with the National Coalition for the Homeless and the National Health Care for the Homeless Council and scheduled to coincide with the winter solstice, the longest, and often coldest, night of the year.
Attended by guests from local service agencies, churches, Saint Joseph’s Health System, the state legislature and city government, and homeless individuals, the vigil incorporated prayer and respect for those who suffered the difficulties of life on the streets. It was an event of camaraderie and solidarity, calling on those present to respond to the call to help those who are less fortunate.
“Lord help us to see your face in the eyes of every homeless person we meet,” the crowd prayed together. “Empower us so that through word, deed, financial and political means we will bring justice and peace to all of our homeless brothers and sisters.”
Following the prayer vigil, Saint Joseph’s Mercy Care provided “gifts of warmth,” including blankets, jackets and gloves, among many other items, to those homeless men and women present. Saint Joseph’s Mercy Care Services has been serving those most in need in Atlanta for 25 years. Since 1985 this outreach of the Sisters of Mercy and Saint Joseph’s Health System has served thousands of homeless persons, the uninsured and underinsured, and new immigrants with health care in Mercy Care clinics.