We’ve walked by them many times in downtown Detroit and elsewhere in the city – the homeless. Sometimes we say hi, sometimes we try and help but too often we just walk by, not really seeing them.
Homelessness is no small problem. More than 3 million people in the United States are currently homeless, 18,000 of them are in need of shelter on any given night in Detroit.
We need to pay attention. These individuals are not faceless people. They need a helping hand and they need more of us to understand the issue and make a difference.
With that in mind, Advantage Health Centers in partnership with Fifth Third Bank, Sam’s Club, Atena Better Health of Michigan, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and other local community organizations will host the 27th Annual Detroit Observance of National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day on Wednesday, December 21 at 1 p.m. at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul at 4800 Woodward Ave.
The idea is to increase awareness of homelessness around the country and certainly in our city.
“It is an unfortunate reality that in one of the wealthiest countries in the world we still struggle with the issue of homelessness,” says Nina Abubakari, interim CEO of Advantage Health Centers. “It’s an issue we must address.”
The observance reminds us that in a country of wealth, there are people whose life expectancy is shortened due to what preceded and occurred while they were homeless.
Compared to the general population, people who are homeless are at greater risk of infectious and chronic illness, poor mental health, and substance abuse. They are also more often victims of violence, prior to and once homelessness. Homeless persons also have a mortality rate four to nine times higher than those who are not homeless, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The event includes a memorial service at the church, remembering those who have lost their lives as a result of homelessness. There will be a catered meal and items including coats and personal hygiene goods will be distributed to homeless attendees.
Partners and contributors to the event include Dorsey Culinary Academy, The Cathedral Church of St. Paul, Molina Healthcare, United Healthcare, Total Healthcare, Aetna, Healthcare, Neighborhood Service Organization, Covenant House Michigan, Genoa, St. Vincent de Paul Dental Clinic, Josef’s Bakery, Capuchin Soup Kitchen, Michigan Veteran’s Foundation, Southwest Solutions, Wayne State University, and HAND.