‘No one should pass away unrecognized'

Rebecca Dennison’s voice broke as she said her friend’s name, "Mary Lou."

"Mary Lou passed away recently. I’m missing her so much," Dennison told the roughly 200 people gathered Friday night in Monument Square for Portland’s annual vigil to remember the homeless people who died during the year. "She was frail and sassy at the same time, but oh, what a lovely lady!"

Mary Lou was one of the 21 homeless people who died in the city this year, and at 60-something, one of the oldest. She died in hospice care, after staying more than 280 days in Florence House, the city’s shelter for women.

Portland’s shelters have been filled to capacity for years, said Mark Swann, the executive director of Preble Street. Earlier this year, demand surged to a new high, with more than 500 people seeking shelter in September for the first time in Portland’s history [click here to read the full story on the Portland Press Herald website].