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Miami-Dade Honors Its Homeless On Winter Solstice

Dec. 21 marks the winter solstice. It is the longest night of the year. Because of that, the 21st is also recognized as Homeless Persons' Memorial Day across the country, honoring those homeless indivuals whose deaths have gone largely unrecognized. 

In Miami-Dade, the Homeless Trust held a service during its monthly board meeting.

Board members and formerly homeless individuals circled around a table filled with candles and surrounded by white pedals. After a brief prayer, there was a moment of silence. 

"You have to honor the lives of people who really have no one to recognize their lives," said Ron Book, chairman of the Homeless Trust. 

According to Book, those being honored range from infants to elderly people. 

"Many of these people were buried at a place in our community called Potter's Field...that's where we bury people who have no money, that don't have a family member speaking up for them," Book said. 

At one point in her life, Pauline Trotman thought she would be part of that group. Twenty-one years ago she was homeless. 

"I could've been a Jane Doe," Trotman said. 

She is now a spokesperson for the Formerly Homeless Forum, a nonprofit organization. She said the memorial is not only for those who have passed, but for those who need a reminder that there is hope.

"It's a way of acknowledging we have to continue the commitment to ending homelessness."

A formal ceremony will be held Jan. 31. On that day, the total number of homeless individuals who passed away in 2018 will be announced.