On the first day of winter, December 21st, Chester County officials, Decade to Doorways personnel and agencies that support those experiencing homelessness in Chester County held a memorial for those homeless and formerly homeless individuals who passed away in Chester County during 2017. The community came together in front of the historic Chester County Courthouse to honor and remember 16 individuals who passed away in what may have been the first and only time they were memorialized.Lauren Campbell, Decade to Doorways Administrator began the service by stating that she “…in no way wanted to define these individuals by their homelessness. It was something they experienced, not who they were.”The program included a candlelight vigil, reading of the names of the individuals who passed away and two musical selections by Catherine Friedman, Executive Director of Friends Association and local musical artist Alexandra March. Attendees were given the opportunity to share some memories about individuals that passed. One individual remarked, “I got to know several of these individuals in the past year when they stayed at our emergency shelter. They weren’t just ‘homeless people’, they were really incredible individuals and they will be missed.”Homeless Person's Memorial Day is an annual event commemorated in over 150 cities and counties across the United States on the first day of winter and is also meant to be a call to action to end homelessness in our city and our nation. The goal is to commemorate the men, women and children who died on the streets or in emergency shelters each year, and recommit to ending homelessness in order to prevent such deaths in the future. Since 1990, the National Coalition for the Homeless has sponsored National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day on the first day of winter to bring attention to the tragedy of homelessness and to remember our homeless citizens who have paid the ultimate price for our nation’s failure to address the issue.Decade to Doorways is a 10-year initiative that coordinates the efforts of those in Chester County working to combat homelessness, including government entities, service providers, educators, healthcare professionals, faith communities, funders and businesses with the end goal of making homelessness rare, brief and non-reoccurring by 2022. To learn more about Decade to Doorways, visit decadetodoorways.org.