Local News

The Longest Night: OC Homeless Persons Memorial

Each year on the winter solstice, more than 160 cities across America gather for “The Longest Night” to remember the members of their communities that died without permanent homes, on National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day.

On December 21, a ceremony was held at the Anaheim Cemetery to honor and remember the more than 200 people who died last year on the streets of Orange County.

Tim Houchen, the main organizer of the event, was homeless in Orange County from 2011 to 2015 and is now the head of a non-profit organization called Hope 4 Restoration.

A centerpiece of the event is a memorial wall which lists the names of all those who died this year. The wall is decorated with flowers, candles, and photographs of the deceased.

The memorial wall lists the over 200 people who died on the streets of Orange County this year.

“I’ve been doing these for about five years,” Houchen said. “I’ve had to put my friends’ names who I was homeless with on that memorial, and to call their names during this ceremony…I hope the day comes when none of my friends will be on that wall. Even better, to have no names on that wall.”

The event began with a musical performance by The Solstice Singers, made up of local singers and musicians especially for the occasion.

After the music, a few speakers addressed the gathered crowd.

Patrick Hogan emerged as a leader and spokesperson for the local homeless community during the time of the large encampment along the Santa Ana Riverbed, and afterward.

“His was a voice that spoke for many people that were unable to speak for themselves,” Houchen said as he introduced Hogan. “His willingness to listen to them and hear of their needs of his community, and his ability to communicate those needs to advocates facilitated that urgent response in delivering resources to this emerging human crisis.”

Candles, flowers, and photographs decorate the memorial wall.

Following the clearing of the homeless encampment along the Santa Ana riverbed in 2018, many people were scattered into motels across the county and shortly thereafter many were back on the streets. Hogan wrote articles and created a newsletter that allowed people to be informed and reconnect during that time.

Hogan read a poem he wrote for the occasion:

I dreamed last night of fellows fallen,

Of those I nodded to in passing, and those I called friends.

Of tents and bags to sleep in,

Of clothes and zippered packs jammed to bursting,

Of bikes with lights and no brakes,

Or skateboard and scooters,

Of paper bag lunches I never ate,

Or gave away to ease hunger.

I dreamed of Sarge and Red Rider,

Of Max and Dancing Robert and Buddy,

And many more whose names I cannot recall.

I dreamed of the smile in their eyes,

And the kindness they tried to hide,

I dreamed of cold stinging rain

And a blazing sun that could melt my shoes,

Of a wind that whips and rips through my soul,

And the cold a cloudless night can bring.

Before awakening, I found myself at a table feast

With a warm, glowing fire.

And the smiling eyes of fallen friends

Welcoming me with a kindness they couldn’t hide.

And I felt homeless no more.

The keynote speaker of the event was Susan B. Parks, president and CEO of Orange County United Way. Under her leadership, the organization launched United to End Homelessness, an initiative committed to end homelessness in Orange County by providing housing and supportive services.

“Tonight we honor our lost neighbors, friends, and family members who died this year while experiencing homelessness,” Parks said.

She explained how living on the streets is “treacherous, stressful, and deadly.”

“It has been proven time and time again that the end to homelessness is a home. We are advocating for the production of more permanent supportive housing in Orange County,” Parks said.

Attendees then assembled at the memorial wall with candles as volunteers read the name of each person who died homeless this past year.

Attendees hold candles and listen as the names are read.

Here is a list of the names:

STEVEN RENOIR

RICHARD MARRONE

MITCHELL COPELAND

ALLYSON BARBER

EDWARD OLAGUE III

MARY RELIGA

CHERYL ADAMS

DAVID NELSON

ROBERT AIELLO

FREDERICK LUCERO

MICHAEL ALMASY

MICHAEL CZAPLINSKI

KEVIN TRAN

DARRYL BOSSIER

GEORGE MAXWELL

KATLYN JENICAN

FERNANDO CERVANTES

JADE GREBE

DENISE JENSVOLD

JOHN THIBEAULT

CATHERINE DODSON

NICHOLAS TAMULINAS

MARTIN KATZMANN

MICHAEL BERGLER

REANNA EBANY

IZABEL VELASQUEZ

STEVEN MARTIN

JOSE AGUIRRE

TOMMY SALAZAR

ANDREW HENDERSON

JAY FOUTS

SCOTT SPENCER

JOSEPHINE TORRES

RONALD MARTIN

LISA PECK

PETRU MUNTEAN

MICHAEL SPEAK

RAYMOND OLIVER

SUSAN BERGER

DONALD AMES II

KORTNEY SANDERSON

STACEY RAAB

PEDRO MEDERO

DAVID FERRY

JOSE VELASQUEZ

MICHAEL TURNER

LINDA GARNER

LUCAS ALPIZAR

MICHAEL SEBREROS-SANCHEZ

DUANE LOPEZ

ROBERTO OMANA

OCTAVIO TEOSILO

SHELLEY DUPRAY

LEONARD LAUVAO

FERNANDO GONZALES

DOROTHY RODGERS

WILLIAM WELLS

JOSE RANGEL

THOMAS BRYANT

GARY SEEDS

NICHOLE EASTIN

DAVID STACK

CHRISTINE SAVAGE

ABEL GUEVARA

RAYMOND MACDONALD

RICHARD THOMPSON

DAVID GIBSON

LARRY LEWIS

DAVID LONGO

VICKI MORRISON

CATRINA PADILLA

PAUL BRAZER

JASON MUDRINICH

PEGGY PRESTON

BRENT SCHNEIDER

MICHAEL RIGGS

DAVID KRAUSZ

ARMANDO MARTINEZ II

PHILIP BLUM

PILAR BELTRAN-KNIGHTS

LETICIA MARQUEZ

GONZALO EVARISTO-TOMAS

LEON BICKETT

DUSTIN NORDVALL

ROBERT DEYA

LEONARDO CUELLAR

ANGEL GALINDO

OSCAR PARRA

WILLIAM WALLS

GERMAN MENDEZ-GARCIA

JOHNNY MARION

MARK MOEN

RICARDO EUGENIO

ANDRES CHAN

ANITA RHOADES

JOSEPH SHERWIN

FRANCISCO MARTINEZ-AGUILAR

TODD COLEMAN

CHRISTOPHER WILD

ELLIOT FISHMAN

GREGORY WHITTINGHAM

HOANG TRAN

JOSE CARRERA-BARBOSA

TYRON COETZEE

LEONEL GARCIA-DIAZ

KYLE PARRISH

KOSOL CHIM

HAMID BEHRAZAFAR

ELDEN KIRIFI

MICHAEL GARCIA

MARK CAMPETT

PAMELA GARCIA

WILLIAM MONTAGUE

JULIAN BERNAL

DAVID TUY

JESSICA FLEMING

TAYLOR THOMPSON

DOUGLAS ROBBIO

JOSE DOMINGUEZ-MARTINEZ

CARLOS FLORES

KRAIG KISSINGER

SEAN VALADEZ

JOHN CRASS

RANDALL DODD

INFANT FEMALE ANDERSON

BRAD INFANGER

DIMAS ROMERO

DAVID HARRIS

ALEJANDRO MARTINEZ

RAFAEL MORALES

LESLIE STUART

SANDRA VANZANT

MICHAEL YARBROUGH

STEVEN SCHOFER

FRANKIE TELLEZ

JASON BOWEN

DONALD LOFTON

TIMOTHY MANNING

ERNEST PARRA JR.

BRIAN SWAN

ANDREW BRAFF

SEAN VITTORIO

CARLOS AGUILAR

DEREK WILSON

VICENTE DE LEON

PATRICK HILL

JULIO MORALES

SHERRY DIMICHELE

LANDON BUCHANAN

NEPARTERIA BAILEY

JAMES OKEEFE

ISIDRO ROJAS JR.

JESSE RAMIREZ

CHO BUI

JOSEPH BERON

RANDOLPH AGUIRRE

LIBERATO CABALLERO

BENJAMIN HEIN

VANESSA SEAGRAVES

MARCOS ALARCON

KEVIN FOOKES

JOEL LOPEZ

PASCUAL TORRES

GLENN MOBERLY

WILLIAM GLOVER

EDWARD SLANK III

VICTOR ESTRADA

WALTER CARTER

MARIO SANTIVANEZ

RODOLFO AGREDANO

JAMES TALBOT

JOSEPHINE BECERRA

DAVID SORENSON

INFANT FEMALE CUEVAS

SCOTT TERNER

DAVID WHELPLEY

JAMES GALLIAN

JENNIFER KUHNS

VIRGIL DWYER

LOREN VINCENT

ERNEST MEZA JR.

MARY HARDY

GARRETT GALLOWAY

THERESA CHERRY

JEFFREY WYNGAARD

FELIPE VERDUGO

RAYMOND PENDERGAST

LAURA CITORES

TODD HODGES

JAY LUCAS

SAILOR KELLY

ALONSO MARROQUIN

STEVEN KNEISLEY

AYRTON JASSO-PERES

KRISTIN MOSHER

JULIAN TAFOLLA

MAYRA DELFIN-CARRETO

LEONARDO VEGA

KIMBERLY JOHNSON

CAROLYN MUSTAIN

ANTHONY PHILLIPS

ISRAEL MATADAMAS-VASQUEZ

JOSE BARRIENTOS

JOSE GUERRO

TERRI DELAO

MICHELLE CAMARILLO

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