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Red Lake Homeless Shelter to host remembrance gathering Friday

RED LAKE -- Crackling wood burning in fireplaces and the sound of heat registers clanking rival a brisk wind whooshing by and snow crunching beneath frozen feet on a winter night in Northern Minnesota.

Most people will come home on that cold night, close the door behind them and shake off the cold. Many homeless men, women and children have no door to close, no escape from the cold; they will be without shelter.

The Red Lake Homeless Shelter will be hosting a community meal in observance of National Homeless Persons Memorial Day on Friday. Nationwide, the day will be recognized on Dec. 21. The gathering is held annually on or near the winter solstice.

“It’s the longest night of the year,” said David May, executive director for the Red Lake Homeless Shelter. “A time to think about anybody who is without a place and could be on the street that night.”

May anticipates about 30 people will arrive for the meal at 11 a.m. Attendees share stories and visit with others who have been helped by the shelter in the past or who have lost friends or family to homelessness.

“This is a nationwide thing, not just here in Red Lake,” May said. May has been executive director for the shelter for the past six months. He succeeded Carol Priest, who was with the shelter for nine years. Priest is now part of Bemidji’s Nameless Coalition for the Homeless, which is working to find an immediate and long-term solution to the homelessness problem in the area.

May said donations are always welcome at the Red Lake Homeless Shelter, 15851 Main Ave. The non-profit shelter is in need of household items, as well.

The first National Homeless Persons Memorial Day was held in 1990. Red Lake has been participating for the past 10 years.

The National Coalition for the Homeless reported that 152 cities across the nation hosted events in 2012.

The Red Lake Homeless Shelter can be reached at (218) 679-3228.

Crystal Dey
Crystal Dey covers crime, courts, tribal relations and social issues for The Bemidji Pioneer in Bemidji, Minnesota. Originally from Minnesota’s Iron Range, Dey has worked for the Echo Press in Alexandria, Minnesota, The Forum in Fargo, North Dakota, The Tampa Tribune in Tampa, Florida, the Hartford Courant in Hartford and West Hartford News in West Hartford, Connecticut. Dey studied Mass Communications at Minnesota State University Moorhead with an emphasis in Online Journalism. Follow Crystal Dey on Twitter @Crystal_Dey.
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