The winter solstice on Saturday, Dec. 21, marks the turning point when the days start getting longer and nights get shorter.
It’s the time of year when Jacksonville’s homeless community comes together to remember the homeless people the city has lost.
The homeless memorial service is held each year around winter solstice to celebrate the lives of those who might otherwise have died forgotten.
On Friday, Dec. 20, at the City Rescue Mission’s chapel on the Westside, Changing Homelessness CEO Dawn Gilman read the names of 26 homeless men and women:
“Laquindra Sandifer, Timothy Young, Bryan Lawson, Cristino Castro, Robert Byrd, James Wise,” she read in part.
“We do this because there are a number of people who do die homeless. No family, no service to celebrate their life and to celebrate the fact that they were important and loved members of our community.”
The winter solstice is significant, Gilman said, because it holds out the hope of better things to come.
Volunteers will hit the streets in Duval, Clay and Nassau counties in January for the annual point-in-time homeless census. Gilman said she expects to find more people living unsheltered than in years past due in large part to rising housing prices and stagnant wages.