This weekend, Nashville will remember 70 members of its homeless and formerly homeless community who died in 2015. Most of these were people who were well known to us at Room In The Inn. They were and are part of our community, important for being exactly who they were and missed because of the relationships we had with them. To mention just a few:
Arthur “Sal” Peck enjoyed spending time in our art room, and had a great sense of humor. He died
after a bout with cancer.
Jason Vaughan, a young man known as “Cowboy” for the boots and hat he wore, died when he fell from a ledge near where he was camping downtown. His sly smile and love for music will be what we remember.
James Alexander lived in our apartments after he struggled with homelessness. He gave back many hours of volunteer time, cleaning and working in our kitchen.
Margie Lucas lived on the streets since she was a young woman, and endured much more than her share of difficulty in life. She succumbed to a long-term illness.
Kenneth Keesee reconnected with family in his later years. A favorite memory of him is a day when we did karaoke at Room In The Inn. Ken was right in the middle of a big circle of people belting out “We Are Family” as loudly as he could. He was killed by a drunk driver this year.
The memorial tree that stands in our main entrance at Room In The Inn bears the names of over 650 homeless individuals who died after struggling with homelessness. For me, its presence inside our front door serves two purposes. It is a reminder of each of the individuals who were so important to us. When we see their names, we remember their faces and stories. But it is also a slap in the face as I walk in the door. It is a reminder that we are responding to an emergency. In a wealthy and growing city, we do not provide enough
And so we gather to remember the men and women whose lives have been lost, but may we also resolve to act. As a people, we will never be truly great until each of our neighbors is treated with the dignity that we all deserve.
Members of Nashville's Homeless Community who died in 2015
Clarence Leron Murphy
Donald Lewis Wilson Jr.
Hilton D’Wayne Pitts
James Larry Moore, “Alabama”*
John Wesley Brown*
Michael Moss Magidovitch
Norman Wayne Dugger
Randall Allen White, “Cowboy”
Randy “Jimmy” Wilson
William Carter William Crain*
William Edward Brown
*denotes the person was formerly homeless