Winter Vigil honors those who died while experiencing homelessness

Photo courtesy of La Puente La Puente Homes held a winter vigil on Jan.31 in remembrance of the homeless who have died.

ALAMOSA — Each January, La Puente observes National Poverty Month to remember and honor those struggling with poverty, homelessness, or both.

On Jan. 31, a Winter Vigil was held in front of La Puente's Shelter in Alamosa; this memorial service honored the lives of people from our community who sadly passed away while experiencing homelessness.

People who joined in the vigil embraced the cold for the night to empathize with those who live without warmth. The evening included musical accompaniments, a meditation, a speech, and a moment of silence to honor those who have passed.

According to the organization Homelessness Death Counts, every day nearly 20 people experiencing homelessness pass away. La Puente's own story began after two individuals in the Valley died from the extreme winter cold; upon hearing this, Sister Mary Angelo Lobato, and others compelled to provide compassionate care, took it upon themselves to start a shelter in 1978.

Currently, La Puente's Shelter continues to support those experiencing homelessness. The Shelter has resources such as transitional housing, essential items, lunch and dinner, and case management that aims for stabilization.

Clients who participate in La Puente's programming are also offered services through Crisis Prevention, a program that mitigates incidents of economic or housing instability, and Street Outreach, which connects with unhoused individuals to ensure they have the supplies and agency support that they need. Beyond these three programs, La Puente has a safety net of other services that serve the community.

Events like the Winter Vigil are a time of fellowship, remembrance, and community bonding. As a community, may we not forget those who have passed away due to the unforeseen complications that come with homelessness. Thank you to everyone who attended the vigil.