PORTLAND, Maine-As the media compile their retrospectives of the notable events and people of 2014, homeless advocates in Portland and Lewiston are remembering those died.
"It’s so sad to look at the list this year, and some of these people we’ve known for a long, long time." says Mark Swann, Executive Director of Preble Street in Portland. 2014, he says, was the deadliest year for the nonprofit’s clients for at least two decades, with 35 people dying this year. It’s a sobering reminder, says Swann, that poverty kills.
"Heart attacks, cancer, head injuries, fires- we had two clients who perished in fires this year. Somebody hit by a train. It’s really all over the place. And it just really speaks I think to the extraordinary vulnerability of people who are trying to survive on the streets."
Swann says studies have shown that those who endure homelessness for a significant period of time are much more likely to die prematurely than other people. This year’s list includes a number of people in their 20’s and 30’s, as well as in their 40’s and 50’s.
A candlelight vigil to honor those who perished will assemble on Monday at 4 PM at Preble Street Resource Center, and then proceed to Monument Square for a memorial. In Lewiston, a gathering is planned for 4:30 Monday at Trinity Jubilee Center; the group will then walk to Calvary United Methodist church.