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Kos and area clergy gather to remember homeless

Date: 12/23/2015

CHICOPEE – The temperatures on the evening of Dec. 18 underscored the message of the event. For the third year, local religious and civic officials gathered for a memorial service for the homeless people who passed away during 2015.

The two people who died were only mentioned by their first name – Ron and Steve.

The Elms College School of Nursing, in collaboration with The Basilica of St. Stanislaus Sunday Sandwich Ministry sponsored the event.

The service took place at Lorraine’s Soup Kitchen and Br. Michael Duffy, the Elms College School of Nursing faculty member who founded the caRe vaN mobile heath program, said official believe there are more than 1,000 homeless people in Chicopee.

He noted some are living on the street, while other may seek shelter in an underpass. They sleep at the library during the day. There are children who may be in shelters or living in cars.

The reason the memorial service is conducted close to the longest night of the year is both symbolic and a way to call attention to a census that is done to try to determine the number of people who are homeless, he added.

He said homelessness is on the rise.

The service is to “give voice those who may be homeless.”

Mayor Richard Kos thanked the people who are helping the city’s homeless and said he has “heartfelt gratitude for what being done for those in need.”

Sister Mary Reap, president of Elms College, thanked the staff and students who assist the homeless and said they are “specially privileged to serve the homeless as they are the closets of Jesus’ friends.”

She noted that Pope Francis has asked people to observe a year of mercy.

The Basilica of St. Stanislaus Sandwich Ministry distributes food and clothing to people who are homeless or facing financial challenges in Chicopee center each Sunday, while the Elms College School of Nursing operates the caRe vaN, providing free healthcare to the homeless and underserved of Chicopee and Holyoke.

Lorraine’s Soup Kitchen & Pantry Inc. serves an average of 100 meals each evening and helps approximately 500 families a month through the pantry.