Several Santa Barbara organizations hosted an interfaith memorial service for the homeless and recently housed people who died in 2020 and 2021.
SB ACT, Home For Good Santa Barbara County, the Santa Barbara County Department of Housing and Community Development, CLUE SB, Flacks Seed Consultants and other community advocates collaborated to present the “Longest Night” and commemorated those who died on the streets from COVID-19 and otherwise.
A small crowd held candles during the event, which took place Tuesday night both in-person in front of the Santa Barbara County Courthouse and virtually over Zoom.
The Santa Barbara service opened with a musical prelude by community leader Ethan Bertrand alongside a welcome by homelessness and affordable housing consultant Chuck Flacks.
An invocation was provided by Dr. Radhule Weininger, a clinical psychologist, followed by a message by Mr. Flacks, who honored Father Jon Hedges.
Father Hedges died earlier this year after a lifetime of ministering to the homeless.
Wayne Mellinger then shared a personal narrative regarding his own experience with homelessness in Santa Barbara County.
The Rev. Kristin Rohm read the names of those who died during the past two years alongside a moment of silence and remembrance. Candles were lit in their honor.
Kim Albers, the Santa Barbara County homeless assistance program manager, offered a call to action, thanking those who offer short-term relief with hopes of long-term solutions.
“Thank you to all who provide immediate life saving support that people need right now,” Mrs. Albers said at the memorial. “Hold that hope in your heart that we can move from crisis to community.”
“Longest Night” concluded with a Benediction by the Rev. Julia Hamilton, who serves as the lead minister of the Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara.