Members of the homeless community gathered on December 17 to pay tribute to the homeless individuals who died in 2009 during an annual candlelight vigil. The memorial, which is primarily attended by people who are currently or formerly have been homeless and their families as well as advocates for the homeless throughout Las Vegas, was held at HELP of Southern Nevada, a homeless outreach center located at 1640 E. Flamingo Road. It’s intended to bring attention to and pay tribute to those who die on the streets and illustrate that all lives have value, even those in the homeless community, who often have few people or even no one to mourn for and remember them once they reach the end of their lives.
During the memorial, a list of the names of the 42 homeless individuals who died the past year was read. In addition, members of the crowd were invited to speak. Among the speakers, several people who had formerly been homeless spoke about their experiences on the street and how they eventually overcame those obstacles that led to homelessness.
Food Not Bombs Las Vegas members in attendance included Kelly W. Patterson, Gail Sacco, and Gail’s husband Joe Sacco. During the speakers’ portion of the vigil, Gail addressed the crowd and memorialized Bret Brennan, who died of cancer in November of this year. Commonly known as “Cowboy,” Bret was at one time homeless and, prior to becoming too sick, was a frequent attendee at the Food Not Bombs Las Vegas picnics in Baker Park. She told of how Cowboy proudly proclaimed to her recently that he was no longer homeless and that others should take encouragement from his story to believe in themselves and their ability to rise above their own personal issues.