Homeless people of all age groups are three times more likely to die than the average population, according to the National Health Care for the Homeless Council.
Shortly before 5 p.m. Monday, event organizers passed out candles as people, mostly from the Burbank-Glendale area, waited for the Los Angeles County-funded winter homeless shelter to open.
“The folks who come here are so fixed on their daily survival,” said Natalie Profant Komuro, executive director of PATH Achieve Glendale, the city’s largest homeless services provider, who organized the vigil. “So taking a moment to remember the friends they’ve lost is something we can give them.”
She said the event, which is in its third year, started in a parking lot among staff members at PATH Achieve as a way to remember clients they had lost.
The vigil was in conjunction with Homeless Memorial Day, an annual event celebrated across the country on the first day of winter, which is the longest night of the year.
On Monday, the vigil involved a group of local religious leaders — the Rev. Skip Lindeman of La Canada Congregational Church, Jan Huang of the Baha’i Community and the Rev. Al Garcilazo, chaplain for Glendale Adventist Medical Center — who prayed for those who have died. At one point, people in line shouted out names or descriptions of people who had died, to be included in the prayers.
“They’re not forgotten, are they?” Garcilazo asked. “We’re here to honor them, remember them.”
Lindeman referenced the Christmas story of Mary and Joseph, and said that they too were homeless.
“God knows what you guys feel and live every day,” he said. “Al and I don’t know that. You know that.”
The short ceremony ended as simply as it had begun, with organizers gathering candles as the doors opened signaling the shelter would soon be open for the night.
“I know you’re hungry and tired,” Profant Komuro said to the crowd at the vigil’s end.
“I want to thank you for sharing this with us.”