Submitted: Jennifer Holligie

 

Today is Homeless Memorial Day, a day to remember those who have died while living without a home. This day is the first day of winter and also the longest night of the entire year. As the weather cools down, today is a reminder that some are living without a heater or roof over their heads — including those living here in Lamar County.

Recently an individual residing at the New Hope Center in Paris left by their own choice. Four weeks later, the staff and residents at New Hope were hearing rumors the individual had passed away while living as a homeless person in Lamar County.

To confirm what they heard, Tanteta Scott the executive director of New Hope, did a little research and was able to confirm the person had died only a couple weeks after leaving the shelter. This person died of natural causes and was buried without a ceremony at the county cemetery.

“It was very emotional for the New Hope Center. This was a wonderful person, and they had no obituary or ceremony,” Scott said. “It felt as if they had never lived at all. The residents chose to hold their own ceremony at the chapel to honor the person’s life.”

This was not the first person the center knew of who died after finding themselves homeless.

“This was the second person that we were aware of in the last 1.5 years who died while living as a homeless person in Lamar County,” Scott said. “We may be a small community, but we must remember that it does happen — even right here in our hometown.”

What are the options for those needing help in Lamar County?

Scott outlined the following options for those in need:
New Hope: Transitional housing program
Safe-T: For clients fleeing from domestic violence
Salvation Army: Shelter for men and offer food/meals for those in need
Texas Dream Center: Rehabilitation for addiction (serves a sub-population of homeless, not all residents are homeless when they enter the program)

“When you see someone holding a cardboard sign you immediately think of a homeless person. We wanted to show that there is always more to the story so we did this project allowing residents of New Hope to tell the story they wanted people to know.” Scott said, referring to the images below.

“While we have the capacity for 50 beds, we only have enough funding to support staff that can supervise up to 30. At the moment, we’re in need of financial contributions,” said Scott.

Anyone wishing to give or seeking more information can call 903-783-0353.

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