The National Coalition on Homelessness (NCH) has for several years organized memorial services in Washington DC and other cities in the US in December close to the shortest day of the year (the Solstice) to honor individuals who died on the streets during the year. In 2013 NCH approached PFC with the idea of expanding the focus to include an event the day before and the day of the memorial service in order to bring wider attention to the plight of individuals without housing in DC. PFC gladly took this on.
To date, PFFC, with NCH, has organized four Vigils: one held on December 19 and 20 of 2013; the second on December 18/19 of 2014, the third on December 17/18 of 2015; and the most recent on December 20/21, 2016. Vigils have become progressively larger (in a number of participants) and comprehensive (in a number of activities). Each year has seen an increase in sponsors and collaborators, funding, and media coverage.
PFFC’s Seventh Annual Vigil: 2019
PFFC’s 7th Annual Vigil to honor and remember those who died in DC in 2019 without the dignity of home took place on December 19 and 20, 2019. Attendees included: individuals who had or were experiencing homelessness, individuals representing organizations that assist the homeless, activists, members of the DC government, and members of the community at large.
The Vigil began on Thursday, December 19 at 5 pm with an opening service at Luther Place Church featuring, among others: representatives from Unity Health Care, the Department of Human Services, 5th graders from the National Presbyterian School, members of Miriams Kitchen, and the National Coalition for the Homeless Speakers Bureau.
Following the service, participants held a candlelight procession down 14th St to a tent at Freedom Plaza where dinner was served. An evening of conviviality and sharing followed with some participants spending the night in the tent.
After breakfast on Friday, December 20 participants did a walk around the Wilson Building where they presented asks to Council Members and their staffers for increasing affordable housing in DC
Following a procession with the casket to the New York Ave Presbyterian Church a Homeless Memorial Service was held, as one of over 180 in the U.S. to remember people experiencing homelessness in 2019. Speakers included DC Council Member David Grosso, representatives from the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim faiths, and members of DC’s homeless/formerly homeless community. Dana Woolfolk read the list of 81 people, too many, who died in DC in 2019 without the dignity of a home.
This year’s Vigil received extensive coverage, among others, from the: Associated Press, Washington Post, DC Line, WTOP, DC List, NBC Washington, WFMZ, WJLA, US News.
We are thankful to our many collaborators and co-sponsors who helped make this and prior year Vigils possible.