On Sunday, December 21, people experiencing homelessness will gather with Iowa Governor Branstad, Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie, homeless service providers, faith-based organizations and the general public to hold a candlelight vigil, remembering those who have died homeless in Iowa, from 5:30 to 6:00 PM, on the West Capitol Terrace at the State Capitol.
The event is being held in conjunction with National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day, and underscores the urgent crisis faced by families, couples and individuals who experience homelessness in Iowa each year.
This sixth annual homeless memorial will be a time of reflection that includes music, poetry and prayer. The Governor and Mayor will read proclamations declaring December 21 as National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day in the State of Iowa and in the City of Des Moines.
This event reflects on the lives of those who died homeless and celebrates the community’s continuing commitment toward creating a society without homelessness. It is “a 30 minute experience out in the cold, with the homeless, to remember those who died homeless,” says Joppa founder Joe Stevens.
Joppa organizes the homeless memorial each year to honor, remember and prevent. “It is important for us to remember those who have died homeless, and honor them as human beings. Many times they lose touch with family members and their relatives don’t even know they’re gone,” said Mr. Stevens. He continued, “We can also help prevent homeless deaths this winter with contributions for those living in tents, under bridges and in vehicles.”
To help ease the pain of homelessness, attendees are encouraged to bring coats, hats, gloves, long johns, blankets and financial contributions toward propane heat and winter boots for those living outdoors this winter.
Joppa Outreach is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization reaching unsheltered homeless people in unique ways. Wherever unsheltered people are living, volunteers visit weekly to spend time with them, care for their immediate needs, and ultimately help them get off the streets.