FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE)- Community members gathered Wednesday night to remember the homeless who died in 2016. This year was especially difficult for some who attended the walk. There were at least 9 people who have died and one of them was the city’s 25th homicide victim.
Samuel Hardrix was only 22-years old when he was killed in August. He was found stabbed to death in the backyard of a home in the 1400 block of Schilling Avenue. A couple months later an admitted white supremacist charged with his murder.
The “Longest Night” Memorial Walk began at 6 p.m. Wednesday at The Rescue Mission along West Superior Street. Participants walked to Trinity English Lutheran Church for a service then back to the shelter. Those who participated in the walk were encouraged to bring a candle or flashlight to carry, and donations of wool socks or heavy-duty gloves.
The memorial walk was a somber one as those in the community remembered Hardrix and others.
“We’re here to reflect on many who have touched our lives in a very positive way,” said Reverend Donovan Coley, President of the Rescue Mission.
Chris Knapp, a friend of Hardrix said Hardrix spent the last four years in and out of homeless shelters like the Rescue Mission. He slept in homeless camps and was trying to get a grasp of this thing called life.
“I don’t know how many times he had my back,” said Knapp. “It was sad when I didn’t have his back when he needed me. It devastated me.”
Sally Segerson, an advocate for the homeless, said shortly before Hardix died he found an apartment and was no longer staying on the street.
“He is not just two syllables,” said Segerson. “He was not just homeless. He was someones older brother, he was someone’s son. He was a friend to so many. His classmates and his street family.”
Samuel Hardrix name was read along with 8 others: Cortez Upton, William Smiley, Glenn Eaglebarger, Steven Faul, Reginald Doyle, Stacy Jones, Steve Oliver, Charles Antrup. There cold be more. Following the reading,there was a prayer and a promise to never forget the lives lost.
Wednesday marks the first day of winter, and the shortest amount of daylight of the year. Since 1990, the National Coalition for the Homeless has sponsored National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day on the evening of the winter solstice to bring attention to homelessness.
In many cases, officials said the evening is the only commemoration of the life and passing of these persons.
“This year we experienced quite a bit of heartache as we saw the passing of some of our residents at The Rescue Mission, and there were many more in the community,” said Richard Cummins, Executive Vice President of Operations at The Rescue Mission. “This walk is a way for us to remember those people, and it is a very special event for our staff, volunteers, and residents.”
For more information about the walk, contact Richard Cummins at 426.7357 ext 138, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.