The Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless hosted the 21th Annual Homeless Memorial on December 21, 2007 at Franklin Circle Church to remember those who died over the last year while homeless. The memorial services took place before the meal at Franklin Circle Church, and was hosted by lead pastor Rev. Allen Harris. A short inter-denominational service was conducted before the names of those individuals who passed away over the last year were read. Cuyahoga County Commissioner Peter Jones said a few words to honor those who passed away, and recognized Patricia Tomcho for her lifetime of work helping to save the life of those who are homeless ahead of her 2008 retirement.
The memorial day was part of National Homeless Memorial Day with similar ceremonies on the first day of winter in over 75 cities in the United States. All the Coalitions in the state of Ohio also marked the first day of winter with vigils on Thursday December 20 or Friday December 21.
Patricia Tomcho has worked for the past 25 years to protect and improve the conditions for homeless people. Tomcho worked as a nurse for the Veterans Administration, Health Care for the Homeless (now Care Alliance) and West Side Catholic. She helped found the health clinic at Malachi Center, the Coalition for the Homeless, and Joseph’s Home. Tomcho has worked to improve the service delivery system to homeless people in Cuyahoga County, and probably saved the lives of more homeless people in the Cleveland area then anyone else. “All of the homeless service providers and the thousands of homeless people who Pat has served over the last 25 years would like to honor nurse and advocate, Pat Tomcho, for her lifetime of service in improving the delivery system to homeless people. Cleveland is better off because Pat decided to dedicate her time to helping homeless people,” said Brian Davis.
The names of those who passed away over the last five years are posted on the Coalition website at www.neoch.org. The memorial is co-sponsored this year by the City/County Office of Homeless Services, the Louis Stokes Veterans Affairs Department, Care Alliance, InterAct Cleveland, and Franklin Circle Christian Church. The 2007 memorial was attended by 138 people, and the co-sponsors gave a lifetime achievement certificate to a nurse in the community who has worked to improve the health care system for homeless people.
At the December memorial, State Representative Michael Foley presented HR 419, a bill to protect homeless people from Hate Crimes. Mayor Frank Jackson attended the ceremony to honor all of those who passed away over the last year.
Copyright Homeless Grapevine, Cleveland, Ohio, Issue 84, May 2008