Saturday, September 22 , 2018, 12:06 pm | Overcast with Haze 65º

 
 
 
 

Local News

At Community Memorial Service, Homeless Gone But Not Forgotten

Residents gather in honor of the 17 homeless who have died this year in Santa Barbara and to raise awareness about the plight of those on the streets

A memorial service on Monday honoring the lives of the 17 homeless people who have died in Santa Barbara this year was held near the public restroom at East Beach, where Ross Stiles was beaten in February and later died in the hospital.

His attackers haven’t been found, but the Santa Barbara Police Department was persuaded to reopen the case after closing it five weeks after Stiles’ Feb. 4 death, social worker Ken Williams said.

Williams helped organize Monday’s event because he, like many of those who attended, believes that there’s a lack of recognition of the homeless community.

“Seventeen people die in a small community and life just goes on,” he said. “There’s a willful ignorance of the pain that’s on the streets.”

The site of the service was chosen because “we don’t want to forget,” said Teena Grant, Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital’s chaplain. “They were part of our community, therefore part of us.”

As mourners arrived, a lone violin played and volunteers from the Community Kitchen of Santa Barbara laid out food on a table of cardboard boxes. Flowers were placed at the base of the painted metal Morris Bear sculpture, which depicted flowers with the name of each person who passed away. The dog pictured, Max, was the guardian of Chris, one of the homeless women who died this year.

During the service, seven members of the local clergy read off the names, dates and causes of death of each person, whose ages ranged from 23 to 70. Each of the 17 names was accompanied by the ringing of a bell.

Many of those who attended are homeless, formerly homeless or work for organizations such as Casa Esperanza and the Community Kitchen, which helped organize the event.

Although the few city officials and other local politicians in attendance weren’t specifically invited, Williams said he was glad they came so that they might influence police and policy.

Volunteers from the Community Kitchen of Santa Barbara laid out food on a table of cardboard boxes for those who attended Monday's memorial service
Volunteers from the Community Kitchen of Santa Barbara laid out food on a table of cardboard boxes for those who attended Monday’s memorial service. (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)

“There should be more community outreach, but there’s not,” he said.

One man’s story

“It’s a damn shame,” said Hopper, a man who lived on the streets of Santa Barbara for 10 years. “People aren’t here for the real purpose; they need to recognize the homeless need help.”

Hopper saw the memorial as a call for more community outreach.

“Some of us go to City Hall on Tuesdays and try to talk (to the City Council), but we’re hushed up in a heartbeat,” he said.

Hopper said he was once arrested while waiting to speak during the public comment period about five years ago, and went to the hospital about 60 times from 2000-07 because of being homeless and having alcohol-related problems.

“As soon as you’re out of the hospital, you’re right back on the streets,” he said. “And as soon as you’re out of jail, you’re right back on the streets.”

Hopper has gone through years of watching friends die, including some of those remembered at Monday’s service. His last few years being at the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission, going to drug and alcohol classes and working to get off Social Security dependence have been to get in a better position for his goal: working in homeless outreach.

“My position will be better to reach out instead of just recognizing people once they’ve passed away,” he said.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Email
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership
×

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >