Memorial vigils in Portsmouth, Va. Beach honor the homeless

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) — Neighbors in Portsmouth and Virginia Beach came together Wednesday to remember those who have died while living on the streets.

Community members gathered at the Oasis Social Ministry on Williamsburg Avenue in Portsmouth. The group lit candles, said prayers and read the names of the deceased. Organizers say the shortest day of the year has become a day to honor those lives lost.

Charnitta Waters, Co-Chair of the Portsmouth Homeless Auction Consortium, says a change in the way you see others may make a difference for someone who has nowhere else to go.

“The person you see on the corner, don’t assume they’re just panhandling. They may really be without housing. Don’t assume in school, the children you see in school have a roof over their heads,” Waters said. “It’s going to take everyone joining hands to attack this problem head on.”

Homeless advocates say six people died on the streets of Portsmouth this year from various causes.

In Virginia Beach, a group held a similar ceremony at the Lighthouse Day Support Services Center.