Tulsa Shelter Holds Memorial For 35 Homeless People Who Died In 2019

Thursday, December 19th 2019, 10:44 pm
By: Kristen Weaver

A Tulsa homeless shelter took the time to remember 35 homeless people who died this year in Tulsa.

The Day Center for the Homeless lit a candle Thursday night for each of those who died.

The center said the memorial service means those who lost their lives this year won't be forgotten.

"I've made it a long way. I had nowhere to go, no family, and nobody to ask for help. They took me in and helped me," said Joe Lipscomb.

Lipscomb said during his 15 years of experiencing homelessness he grew to know many of those around him.

He said that's why the memorial service means so much to him.

"This is a good thing. People need to know not everybody out there are bad people," he said.

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Lipscomb said he left the day center and got a home, but about a month ago it burned down.

"I ended up back down here with second degree burns on both feet," he said. "They took me in."

Mack Haltom is the executive director at the Day Center.

He said each year, the center and other Tulsa homeless shelters gather to light a candle and read the names of those experiencing homelessness who died over the year.

"You've touched our lives. We'll remember you," they said in unison while lighting each candle.

"It ties in with the winter solstice, the longest night of the year, and with homelessness. How long and dark it can be to experience that," said Haltom.

The Day Center remembered a total of 38 people, including three employees who dedicated years of service to the shelter.

"I've known a lot of them that died and didn't deserve it," Lipscomb said. "I hope they're where they should be."

Mack said although somber, the night is important.

"Oftentimes folks that pass away that are homeless never get recognition or funerals, so it's an opportunity to recognize them," Haltom said.

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