Homeless memorial vigil planned for Portland, Lewiston

PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) Vigils to raise awareness for the homeless in Maine are being held to honor more than 30 homeless people who have died this year.

Portland’s annual Homeless Persons’ Memorial Vigil takes place Monday evening. It ends in Monument Square with the lighting of candles to honor those who have died.

Mark Swann, Preble Street executive director, said the current number stands at 35. He says the “heartbreaking statistic” is the highest in the 20 years that the event has been held.

Participants include people who are homeless and those who’ve been homeless, along with concerned citizens and advocates for the homeless. The event is sponsored by the city Health and Human Services Department, Mercy Hospital and Preble Street.

A similar vigil is also planned in Lewiston where supporters will gather Monday afternoon on the corner of Bates Street. Vigil participants are invited to bring nonperishable and canned food which will be collected at Trinity Episcopal Church.

There will be a procession through downtown Lewiston after a candle lighting.

Each year since 1990, the National Coalition for the Homeless has co-sponsored National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day to bring attention to the tragedy of homelessness organizers said.