Remembering those who lost their lives while experiencing homelessness.

On December 21, 2023, Arundel House of Hope staff, Winter Relief guests, supporters, and community leaders gathered at the People’s Park for the annual Longest Night Homeless Persons’ Memorial Service. Each year the memorial takes place on the winter solstice, the longest night of the year, to remember and honor individuals who lost their lives during the year while experiencing homelessness or having a history of homelessness. It is a somber event, and also a time to recommit ourselves to ending homelessness in our community.

Our executive director, Mario, was this year’s Master of Ceremonies. Pastor Vineyard from College Creek Church and Susan Zevin from Temple Beth Shalom said thoughtful prayers. County Executive Pittman called on us to advocate and fight for more affordable housing options, a significant cause of homeless in our community. Delegate Shaneka Henson spoke and recognized, Larry Griffin, the founders of We Care and Friends who recently passed away, and gave his wife, Rachel, a citation on behalf of the State House of Delegates. Brian Cahalan shared inspiring memories of Larry Griffin’s work in the Annapolis area. Rachel Griffin also took a moment to speak about her late husband’s legacy.

Justin Bieler, Karen Williams, and Audrey Beerthe from the Department of Social Services read the names of 19 individuals who died this year while experiencing homelessness while the audience solemnly held lite flashlights. The Broadneck APEX Choir sang beautiful songs, offering time for reflection.

Arundel House of Hope staff, Darren Money and Niki O’Herlihy, were among the people who shared personal remembrances of people who passed this year. Lastly, Heather Cassity, from the Lighthouse, shared closing remarks. In her remarks she read a moving poem, Death of a Homeless Man, written by Vikram Seth, a man with lived experience of homelessness. She closed the evening by reminding us to take care of our neighbors, especially those who are most vulnerable. Light House Bistro provided delicious hot cocoa along with an assortment of flavored marshmallows.

We’d like to thank everyone who help planned the memorial service and who attended. We dream of a time when we won’t have this yearly service because no one in Anne Arundel County will experience homelessness.

Housing is Healthcare

Homelessness has devastating impacts on health and life expectancy. Please read these fact sheets to learn more how health and housing are interconnected, and why housing is a cornerstone to healthy life.