County To Commemorate Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day

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Middlesex County Freeholder Kenneth Armwood

Middlesex County Freeholder Kenneth Armwood

HIGHLAND PARK — On Saturday, Dec. 21, the Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders, along with the Borough of Highland Park and many Middlesex County homeless service providers and advocacy organizations, will partner to honor and memorialize all those whom have died homeless during 2013.

Through the advocacy of the National Coalition for the Homeless, National Consumer Advisory Board, and the National Health Care for the Homeless Council (NHCHC), communities throughout the nation have held a Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day every year since 1990. The event is held on the first day of winter, the longest night of the year, in an attempt to symbolize the harsh elements of winter that threaten homeless persons’ health and lives.

“In Middlesex County, our neighbors don’t just include those who live in the homes around us, but also those in our neighborhoods struggling to find suitable shelter,” said Middlesex County Freeholder Kenneth Armwood, chair of the county’s Community Services Committee. Armwood said his wish was “that those who attend the event will leave with a sense of awareness for our homeless constituents and of those whom have died from exposure, illness and hate crimes.”

The Reformed Church of Highland Park Affordable Housing Corporation (RCHP-AHC) is honored to host this 5th annual commemoration held in Middlesex County. RCHP-AHC understands the significance of holding the ceremony on Dec. 21 as a reminder of the hardships that some of our brothers and sisters incur because they have no suitable shelter during the night time, and especially because sleeping in the elements for any amount of time can cause major health issues that may result in immediate death or contribute to dying at a much younger age. RCHP-AHC has developed affordable permanent housing for homeless veterans, aging-out youth, and TANF families in the Borough and also sees this memorial as a way of reminding all of our residents how vulnerable we can all be to the scourges of homelessness

The memorial will begin at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 21 at the Reformed Church of Highland Park, 19 South Second Avenue in Highland Park. Highland Park Mayor Gary Minkoff and the Borough of Highland Park are co-sponsors with the RCHP-AHC of this year’s remembrance. A candlelight tribute will be held to emphasize the impact this particular day represents.

The evening will include education, music and poetry readings from Homeless Individuals, interfaith and intercultural readings, a Community Commitment to Assist in Ending Homelessness, and a collection of new Men’s and Women’s undergarments and socks.

“Middlesex County is committed to end homelessness here in 10 years,” said Freeholder Director Ronald G. Rios. “On behalf of the entire Freeholder Board, I thank everyone that is helping us reach this goal and for their dedication to helping the neediest among us.”


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