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16 Jun 2024

Ceremony held to bury cremains of 50 homeless individuals in Philadelphia

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June 16, 2024 Category: Local Posted by:

ABOVE PHOTO: City officials, community members and volunteers pay their respects Thursday to 50 formerly homeless individuals at Mount Peace Cemetery in North Philadelphia. (Photo courtesy SELF Inc.)

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. — On a somber yet poignant morning, Mount Peace Cemetery, located in North Philadelphia, hosted the 2024 Lester Ross Memorial Ceremony to lay to rest the cremains of 50 homeless individuals from the streets of Philadelphia. The ceremony, held on June 6, brought together community members, local officials, and compassionate volunteers to pay their respects to these unclaimed souls and ensure they receive a dignified farewell.

“Today we honor those that some may have cast away. We honor those whose light continued to shine during adversity. We celebrate the humor, the tenacity, the talents, the voices, the joy, the victories, and yes, the endurance of those we buried,” said SELF Inc. CEO Dr. Shirlana Dash.

The ceremony, conducted with reverence and solemnity, included prayers and a reading of the names of those 50 lives that may have been marked by hardship and isolation. As each urn was gently and respectfully placed in its final resting spot, attendees reflected on the shared humanity that binds us all together, regardless of our circumstances. This is the third year the ceremony has been held and it was started by former SELF CEO Michael Hinson, who died in 2022. He also helped start the Lester Ross Homeless Memorial Fund to pay for the event.

One Day At A Time helps Mount Peace Cemetery workers respectfully place the urns of the 50 people who died on the streets of Philadelphia in the past year. (Photo courtesy SELF Inc.)

“We may not have known their stories, but today we recognize their humanity and honor their memory,” said SELF Inc. Director of Communications Sharyn Flanagan. “In a city as vibrant and caring as Philadelphia, it is fitting that we come together to show compassion and solidarity towards those who may have had no one else.”

Mount Peace Cemetery, known for its dedication to preserving the memory of all individuals, has taken on the responsibility of ensuring that the unclaimed remains of Philadelphia’s homeless receive a proper burial and a place of rest where they will be cared for with dignity and respect.

“We acknowledge the seeds that were sewn into the fabric of our society by those we laid to rest. It is our honor and privilege to celebrate each name we called out today. Let us continue to honor them every day with a life of service,” Dash said.

SELF Inc. is a 501 (c) (3) human services agency that provides emergency and permanent supportive housing, housing-focused case management, mentoring, and other vital services and resources for Philadelphia’s most vulnerable communities since its founding in 1982 by Dr. Sylvester Outley. It is the largest provider of emergency housing in Philadelphia.

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