On Wednesday evening community members came together to remember lives lost at “The Longest Night Homeless Day of Remembrance” event hosted by the Good Samaritan Shelter in Santa Maria.
Music rang out from the Santa Maria City Hall building Wednesday night as community members gathered to remember the homeless who are no longer with us.
“I lost actually three very close friends that was dear to me and it was tragic. I had a friend who lost their daughter and it’s sad to lose someone out here on the streets,” said Joseph Sehraff, Good Samaritan Shelter client.
“Yeah I have. Quite a few people. Not necessarily here, but in other parts of the United States as well," said Phillip Dixon, Mental Health Diversion House Manager.
Candlelight illuminated the sea of faces of community members remembering those who paid the ultimate price while living on the streets.
Mental health issues and addiction often go hand in hand with homelessness.
The event provided information about life-changing programs available to those who are struggling.
“I’ve been battling mental and physical diseases as well as addiction and overcoming those hurdles to better myself and through their programs and their support I’ve been succeeding," said Sehraff.
“I’ve actually been homeless myself. So the very organizations that were being mentioned are actually organizations that have helped me,” said Dixon.
Dixon is thankful for the help he received while he was struggling with addiction and is now paying it forward as a house manager for a mental health diversion program.
“I’m just grateful to be here because my future looks endless with all the possibilities and my hope and my spirit is alive and it wasn’t like that so long ago," added Sehraff.
Anyone looking to help those experiencing homelessness can reach out to the Good Samaritan Shelter in Santa Maria to volunteer.
If you’d like to volunteer your time or offer financial support you can find contact information here.