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Deceased Homeless Rockford Residents Remembered At Memorial

Katie Finlon / WNIJ

Rockford residents gathered to mourn the lives of the city’s homeless Friday at Carpenter’s Place. 

Shelton Kay is the director of community services at Crusader Community Health. He is also chairman for the Rock River Homeless Coalition, who hosted the annual event.

Kay says he volunteers to read those names every year, and some of those who were commemorated on Friday were his clients. He says the Rock River Homeless Coalition created the event so friends and family could have the chance to say goodbye to those who died and didn’t have the finances to plan for funeral services.

“These are people, too--they deserve respect and honor and this is a good opportunity to show that to them, and if nothing else, it shows their peers that are still there that their community cares about them.”

Kay says the coalition started with a list of 70 people. Some people who were on the initial list died after they found housing.

Those who were commemorated at the memorial died over the course of this year and were homeless at the time of their death.

Twenty-nine names were read at the service, and the ages of those who died range from 22 to 60.