Today (December 21) is the shortest day of the year. It is the day we will have the least amount of daylight of any other day of the year. Today is also the Winter Solstice, or the official first day of winter. It is also known as the Day of Remembrance: a day to celebrate the lives of those who died while experiencing homelessness or houselessness, and to be reminded of how hard it is to live without shelter. For the past six months, it’s been getting a little bit darker every day. This is what it can feel like for those experiencing homelessness – it can often feel like every day is a little darker than the day before.
There is a deep sorrow we feel when someone we work with who lived under stigma and broken systems for years never finds their way home. Dying while experiencing homelessness never gets easy to witness. We acknowledge those who died who we have worked with by writing their names on our virtual cemetery. It’s our way of making sure they are not forgotten. There are 52 names for 2022 on that list already. These were sisters and brothers, daughters and sons, mothers and fathers. They were friends to others and to us. Not all of these people died alone or unhoused – but many did.
We truly believe every person deserves a loving, supportive community and a place to call home. We understand it is impossible to save every life of people going through homelessness, but that doesn’t mean we won’t keep trying. Here at Friendship House, it doesn’t matter how long it takes someone to find a community or find a home. We have made the commitment to be here during each person’s journey – as long as it takes. Even if it means seeing their name on our virtual cemetery.
We keep going, though, because we see so many people succeed in achieving their goals. We keep going because we are needed and we are wanted. We keep going knowing there is hope. So, here’s the good news: after today, for the next six months, every day is a little bit brighter. Even as the cold weather settles in, the sun will start to rise a few seconds earlier and set a few seconds later. We won’t notice it right away, but it is a promise that tomorrow there will be a little more light. That is the hope we hold on to – the hope we give to those who access our services: there’s always a brighter tomorrow.
You can be that bright tomorrow for our community today. A donation from you can support our Transitional Housing program, where our staff support people working on transitioning from homelessness to self-sufficient living in a loving, supportive community. Or it can support our Clothing Bank, where we clothe people annually with things such as school and winter clothing. Our Clothing Bank is also part of a woman’s community as she exits incarceration and works on reentering an ever changing world. It will support our Empowerment Centers, where we provide a safe place for anyone who is in need of resources to ensure their survival while living on the streets. It’s also a place of love and support as we provide hospitality throughout the year. Your donation can support our Financial Assistance program, which has become a critical lifeline for people who have financial hardship, at risk of losing their home, on the brink of securing employment, or have significant barriers in their way keeping them from their goals. Your donation might be used for our Winter Programming, which includes the life-saving Code Purple program and Saturday Morning Hospitality.
Your gift is needed for us to be able to keep hope alive in those who are, on the darkest day of the year, deserving of a brighter tomorrow. Please consider a donation to Friendship House today and help us fight till every person has a place to call home.