Pine Grove co-hosts local Observance for Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day, calls for donations | Community Spirit
Pine Grove Behavioral Health Services and the Hattiesburg Coalition for Homelessness will observe National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day with a memorial service on Dec. 21. The community is invited to attend and show their support for those who experience homelessness in their lives and for the Pine Belt organizations who are working to help those individuals.
The memorial service will take place at 5 p.m. on Dec. 21 at the fountain located behind City Hall and across from Jackie Dole Sherrill Community Center in Downtown Hattiesburg. Attendees will gather to light candles and remember those homeless members of the Pine Belt community that passed away this year, as well as show support for the agencies that work to end homelessness in our area. Members of the community are invited to attend the service along with members of the Pine Belt homeless community, former homeless individuals, representatives from Pine Grove Behavioral Health and representatives from the Salvation Army, Haven House, Hope House, area churches and other members of the Hattiesburg Coalition for Homelessness. Coalition members and others will assemble gift packages for homeless community members in attendance containing food, toiletries, towels and other necessities. Donations of towels, washcloths and travel-size toiletries are needed for these gifts.
Since 1990, the first day of winter and the longest night of the year has been marked as National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day. Across the country, local and state organizations hold memorials to recognize the problem of homelessness and honor those in their communities who have died during the past year. In 2012 more than 157 cities in 40 states participated in the annual observance, which is co-sponsored by the National Coalition for the Homeless, National Consumer Advisory Board and National Health Care for the Homeless Council. This is the fourth year for the Pine Belt to participate by holding a memorial service in Downtown Hattiesburg.
“At least 3 and a half million people will experience homelessness at some point in their lives – and there are many reasons for a person to be homeless,” said Steve Laube, Program Coordinator for Pine Grove Village. “Our city is the only one in Mississippi to participate in this annual observance, which exists to raise community awareness about homelessness and promote efforts to end the problem. We encourage anyone who is interested to come – it is a very moving experience.”
There are many resources for homeless individuals in the Pine Belt, including two programs that are unique in South Mississippi – Pine Grove Village and Pine Grove Green Meadows. These two programs, along with the Salvation Army and other housing programs, play an important part in assisting the homeless community in the Pine Belt. Pine Grove Village and Green Meadows are both classified by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development as “permanent supportive housing” for homeless individuals. Pine Grove Village, which began in 2004, is for men, and Pine Grove Green Meadows, started in 2006, is for women with children. To qualify for either of these programs, individuals must be chronically homeless – meaning they must be homeless for a year or more (or 4 times in the last three years totaling a year or more), along with a mental health diagnosis and/or substance abuse issue. Pine Grove receives referrals from the Salvation Army, social workers and state hospitals and even some self-referrals for the programs, which involve a screening process and a commitment to comply with the facility’s rules including no alcohol or illegal substances and adherence to a specific rehabilitation process.
If you are interested in donating items for the memorial service gift packages, or to find out more information about this memorial service or how you can help with homelessness in the Pine Belt, contact Steve Laube at Pine Grove Village at 601-288-CARE.