Community honors those who died homeless this year

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. Those who are most often forgotten in the community were remembered Sunday at the Grand Valley Coalition's 16th annual memorial to homeless.

"She was a good person," said Brei, whose friend Velvet died this past August while homeless. "She told me she would protect me. She was a good woman."

A group gathered in Hawthorne Park to read the names of more than 40 people who died this past year without a home to call their own.

"To show that these individuals who have died on the street have value, to call their name," said Beverly Lampley, who works for Catholic Outreach. "So often homeless people are feared or ignored and you pretend like you don't see them because somehow you're embarrassed. They're individuals just like you and I."

None of those 40 people died from exposure to weather compared to 2007 when 23 people died of exposure, which shows an improvement in shelter services in the area, Grand Valley Coalition for the Homeless members said.

"There are all kinds of collaborative efforts going on to help our neighbors exist," Lampley said.

December Is National Homeless Persons' Memorial Day, but right now the cause is honored in October in Grand Junction.

The Grand Valley Coalition for the Homeless is petitioning to change it to December to match the rest of the country.

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