Memorial held for people who died while experiencing homelessness

GASTON COUNTY, N.C. — On Dec. 21, the longest night of the year, advocates want the community to think about those who are unhoused.

Danielle Webb said that was once her story.

“Ten years ago, my son and I, we experienced homelessness in this very county,” she told Channel 9′s Almiya White.

Now, through her nonprofit Displaced Roses, she helps those less fortunate than she is.

“It could be your loved one, it could be you,” Webb said.

On Thursday, Webb, along with the City of Gastonia, gathered at First United Methodist Church to remember those who died while experiencing homelessness. Webb said those honored on Thursday were her clients.

“The biggest thing, that was somebody’s child,” she said. “Somebody’s brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, friend.”

Carson Dean works with Continuum of Care, a network of homeless services and providers.

“It’s unfortunate that so many people pass before we have a chance to get them to a place of their own,” he told White.

Dean said the homeless population is alarming in Gaston County, especially after its largest homeless encampment closed back in the fall.

“We have about between 800 and 1,000 people on any given night who are experiencing homelessness. The majority do happen to be in Gaston County,” he said.

“I just pray that the numbers go down,” Webb said. “But sometimes, it’s not a question of if someone will die, it’s when?”

Webb said while Thursday was about those who suffered, she hopes the community will be reminded of those who are still suffering and lend a helping hand.

“People have said ‘oh, you got to pull yourself up by the bootstraps.’ And I just tell them first, ‘somebody’s got to give them boots,’ you know?” she said. “It’s not a handout. It’s a hand up.”

If you’d like to help those who are unhoused this season, click here for information from Displaced Roses.

(WATCH BELOW: Three-tour vet in Charlotte gifted used car after years of homelessness)

Almiya White

Almiya White, wsoctv.com

Almiya White is a reporter for WSOC-TV

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