Reflections on the Night of Remembrance

Last night we held our annual Night of Remembrance for our Brothers and Sisters experiencing homelessness who have passed away in 2018.  We read 41 names.  41 people just in Barnstable alone.  That’s shocking; horrifying really!  41 people who did not recieve adequate housing, adequate health care, adequate attention from a place known for it’s oppulent beauty and wealth.

Dan McCullough, M25, gave a powerful speech filled with righteous anger that remembering is not enough, now we need to do something!  Just last week a member of our homeless community died, froze to death by the railroad tracks.  “Remembering him does him no good”, stated McCullough.   Sadly, Dan was preaching to the choir.  He was reaching out to  a group of people who were either homeless themselves or were part of faith, medical and social service agencies that work for the benefit of those who are experiencing homelessness.  I wonder who from the larger community attended this event?

Brothers and Sisters, we need to do more than pray.    We need to do more than shake our heads and wonder what we can do.   We need to upturn an unjust system.

We need more than adequate housing, we need safe housing.  Do you have any idea what some of the low income housing units are like?  Would you want to live there?

We need safe places for people with substance use disorders to get treatment while being housed, not having sobriety a requirement of safe housing.

We need safe places for people with mental illness to live and recieve the care they deserve.

We need a health care system that does not throw up barriers.

We need medical respite for people living in shelters.  Just this week I learned about a woman with cancer who has to decide about getting treatment.  She cannot take her the medication prescribed to slow the growth rate of the cancer because the medication makes her sick and there is not a place to rest during the day.  It is not allowed in the shelter, but if she goes elsewhere for more than three days she loses her bed in the shelter and is put back out on the streets.

Can you imagine?

Yes, Dan McCullough, we need to do more than remember.  This is not right.  This is not fair or just or humane.   Let’s get together and change this system. That is my wish this season.  Can you help?

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