A memorial service was held in Jacksonville Monday morning to honor 20 homeless men and women who died this year.
Dawn Gilman, CEO of Changing Homelessness, says reading their names aloud was a way to honor their memory and recognize their value as human beings.
“When you’re working directly with people who feel hopeless, part of giving them hope back is to acknowledge that their lives matter. And part of this memorial service is to make sure, if no one else was there to celebrate that life when it ended, that we acknowledge it and its importance and its impact on others," she says.
Jacksonville is one of more than 100 U.S. cities that hold memorial services for the homeless each December on the winter solstice, the day with the shortest amount of daylight and longest amount of darkness.
Homeless advocates say it symbolizes the return of light and warmth and hope.