The 2015 Vigil, began on Thursday afternoon, December 18, with a program held inside the Church of the Pilgrim attended by 150 people. Laura Zeilinger, Director of the Department of Human Services (DHS) was one of the speakers. Following the program between 60 and 70 people, holding a candle in one hand and placards with the name of people who died on the streets in 2015 in the other, walked down 14th St. to Freedom Plaza, which is located in front of the Wilson building (where the offices of the Mayor and the DC Council are located) and two blocks from the White House. Following a warm dinner, attendees participated in an Open Mike session.
Other activities that evening included: a screening of Movies on the Street in the Street Sense Art Bus; outreach to individuals sleeping on the streets to distribute hats, gloves, and scarves and to invite them to Freedom Plaza to participate in the Overnight Challenge. Over 40 individuals, including individuals living on the street, case-workers, and service providers spent the night on Freedom Plaza in a large tent.
Following breakfast on Friday, December 19 and a teach in 30 Vigil participants did walk-arounds to the office of the Mayor and offices of DC City Council. The walk arounds were designed to bring attention to the plight of individuals living on the streets in DC’s and the need for affordable and sustainable housing.
At 10:30 am a procession, accompanied by a DC Police motorcycle escort, carried an empty casket, honoring individuals who died on the street in 2015, to New York Ave Presbyterian Church where a lunch was served. At 12 noon a memorial service to honor those that died on the streets in DC in 2015 was held in the church sanctum. Following the memorial service, a procession took the casket back to the Church of the Pilgrim where the Vigil began the afternoon before.
The 2015 Vigil engaged new People for Fairness members; had an increased turnout from people who lack stable housing; and added several new partners and supporters. Partners and supporters included: Miriam’s Kitchen, The Way Home Campaign, the Coalition for Non-Profit Housing and Economic Development (CNHED), Street Sense, the Foundry Church, the Western Presbyterian Church, So Others Might Eat (SOME), and the DC Fiscal Policy Institute (DCFPI).
Articles on the Vigil appeared in a number of media outlets and PFC raised $5,400 exceeding expenses by about $1,500. Council Member Briane Nadeau spoke at the Open Mike on Thursday night. Council Member David Grosso participated in the procession from Freedom Plaza to the New York Ave Presbyterian Chuch. In addition, a short video was done of the 2015 Vigil.