Honoring those who died while homeless in 2007

Simpson Housing Services held its 23rd annual march and memorial service Dec. 20 to remember Minnesotans who died while homeless last year.

About 300 people participated in the march and silent vigil, which started at the Hennepin County Government Center in Downtown and ended with a service of remembrance at Simpson United Methodist Church, 2740 1st Ave. S. They memorialized 106 people, including five advocates for the homeless community.

In a blog, John Petroskas, who has been charged with collecting the names of Minnesotans who have died while homeless the last three years, wrote: “But as sad as collecting the names can be, there’s often a fragment of a story to accompany the name: the deceased was a veteran, a college graduate, a mother of two children, a musician. These details can be starkly revealing, heartbreaking, mysterious. … Helping to share the stories of those who might otherwise be forgotten is the reason that it is such a privilege for me to collect the names and to participate in the memorial each year.”

The Commission to End Homelessness, a group of nearly 70 leaders in Hennepin County, is working on a plan to end homelessness in Minneapolis and throughout the county by 2016. For more information on the plan, go to headinghomehennepin.org.

Simpson Housing Services, the Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless, Shelter Providers Action Association and the St. Paul Area Coalition for the Homeless sponsored the march.