Homeless deaths remembered

A grieving Ivy Rivers, left, presses her fingers to her lips in a kiss before placing them on a ribbon she tied onto a tree in Hawthorne Park in memory of her fiance, Christopher Pierce, 21, who was found dead of natural causes Dec. 5 in a homeless encampment.

They came with candles and white ribbons.

Some had stories.

Roughly 30 people turned out for a ceremony at Hawthorne Park on a brisk, sunny Sunday to remember homeless people who have died over the past year, and to ponder how to help the homeless in Grand Junction.

“I think there’s an effort now, locally, to bring all these different groups in our community to the table and not duplicate efforts,” said Grand Junction Mayor Teresa Coons, who works with Beyond Charity, a coalition of various homeless services providers.

People held candles and placed ribbons on a tree facing Fourth Street as part of an annual remembrance ceremony by the Grand Valley Homeless Coalition.

Coons added one of the ribbons. Not, she said, for any one person but “for the idea we as a community can have a better understanding of what the issues are around homelessness.”

“I think the economy has certainly brought the issue to a forefront of a lot of people’s minds.” Coons said. “In a better economy, perhaps that wouldn’t be the case.”

Ivy Rivers tied a ribbon to the tree, kissed her hand and then touched the ribbon in memory of her fiance, 21-year-old Christopher Pierce, whose body was discovered Dec. 5 inside a tent at a local transient camp.

Jacob Richards, an organizer with the advocacy group, Housing First! No More Deaths!, said he tied a ribbon for Dennis Lowery, missing since December 2009 before his body was found this past spring. Richards said two other men whom he had come to know died homeless in Grand Junction this year.

“(Lowery) drank, but he had a big heart. He was a human being,” said Richards, recalling Lowery’s penchant for short poems and volunteer work at Catholic Outreach’s Soup Kitchen.


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