NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — On the steps leading to the alter at Trinity Church in New Haven sit 18 pairs of shoes. One pair for each homeless person that died in the city in 2016. The shoes are part of a memorial service to honor those lives.
“What we would like to do is offer a chance to come together as a community, as a homeless community, to be able to offer remembrances and to be able to grieve their loss,” said Philip Costello who is in charge of homeless outreach at the Cornell Scott Hill Health Center.
Today’s memorial service was organized by the health center. In attendance, Mayor Toni Harp, community health and social workers, and family and friends of those who died.
“It was just nice to be able to pay my respects. You know what I mean? People I cared about and cared about me when I was out there when I was homeless,” said Paul Cauldron.
One by one people were invited to speak and share their personal memories and stories. As each one spoke it was clear there is a tremendous sense of community within the city’s homeless population.
“It’s important to engage your community and to respect people and people as people no matter who they are,” said Scott Bird of New Haven.
A United Way survey conducted last January counted 625 homeless people living in New Haven. The hope is someday there will be no homelessness but for now organizers say the memorial service will be an annual tradition.
“You may not know them but they are near and dear to u and part of our family. So, please pray for them that their future guidance will be smoother than what they’ve had in life,” said Michael Taylor, CEO of the Cornell Scott Hill Health Center.
Those remembered include William Griffin, Anthony Stanco, Gary Crawford, Charlotte Fox, Noreen “Mary Ann” Welch, Alfred Simon, Roy Duneday, Mike Mertcer, Freddie Pain, Manuel Bonilla, Chad Mansfield, Alfredo Simoes, Scott Northrop, Frances LaJoie, Ray Roberson, Frankie the Singer, Ray Ray and Big Red.