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The shortest day and longest night of the year was the pretext for a vigil on S.E. Foster Road

DAVID F. ASHTON - Ringing a bell as they alternated reading names of homeless people who have recently died in Portland were Alys Allwardt from Pilgrim Lutheran Church in Lents, and Paul Underwood, director of Operation Nightwatch. Although it won't even be open until later this year, the county's new shelter at 6144 S.E. Foster Road, near Holgate Boulevard, was the site of a vigil on December 21 – the Winter Solstice; the start of winter, and the longest night of the year.

Among those who walked over from St. Mark's Lutheran Church on Powell Boulevard at S.E. 51st Avenue to the rally point was Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury.

"I'm here with people concerned about the homeless – [holding a vigil here,] where, this fall, we'll have 120 new beds that are sorely needed in our community; it's going to be great shelter," Kafoury told THE BEE.

"The vigil developed in response to a meeting held in December in which, in her opening remarks, Multnomah County District 3 Commissioner Vega Pederson talked about all communities, including those of faith, becoming involved in the homeless crisis," explained organizer Bonnie Beadles-Bohling. She's with a group called Southeast People of Faith.

"Those gathered here are naming and remembering [homeless] people who died on Portland's streets in the last year; and, at the same time, they're showing support of the Foster Road Shelter, and committing to collaborative care of our shared space," Beadles-Bohling said.

As many as 100 people, representing a dozen area churches and organizations, gathered in the parking lot – as two volunteers rang a bell, and read the names of homeless people who had died in Portland in the last year.

"What we hope will be the outcome of this, will be to build positive relationships between neighbors, housed and un-housed," explained Beadles-Bohling.

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