Community members gathered on the steps of the state capitol Monday to remember the homeless who died on the streets of Cheyenne this year.

"We're honoring five homeless men and women that passed away this year who might not otherwise have been recognized in any other way," said Rachel Bennett, Volunteer Director for the Wyoming Coalition for the Homeless. "We can hardly think of anything that might be sadder, than having an entire life lived without having anyone known your name."

For 15 years now, the Wyoming Coalition for the Homeless has hosted a Homeless Memorial on the first day of winter to bring attention to the tragedy of homelessness and remember those who have died in the cold without a roof over their head.

"Today we come here to honor some of our society that is no longer with us," said guest speaker Ingrid Santana. "And although the occasion can be somber, it is also a moment where we can reflect and bring knowledge and education and a voice to those that seem to not have one."

Santana, a formerly homeless mother, says many people are just a paycheck away from being homeless.

"There's so many reasons why a person becomes homeless," said Santana. "Homelessness is not simply about money. You can be fleeing from your home due to domestic violence or worse, and worse means really worse. You don't know what is in someone's shoes."

Bennett says while numbers may be down nationally, homelessness is a growing problem in Cheyenne.

"We're seeing a lot more need and a lot more families with younger children in need than we have before," said Bennett. "I know we see people standing out on street corners with cardboard signs and those kind of things, but where you can really do a lot of good is to help those organizations that are trying to do more for families and individuals."

Santana hopes the community can come together to end the need for another Homeless Memorial service in 2016.

"I want to say goodbye and good journey to those who are no longer walking with us," said Santana. "And to all who are here today, I say let's do our part."

Joy Greenwald, Townsquare Media
Joy Greenwald, Townsquare Media


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