Surrounded by the holiday lights of Marion Square, about 50 people held candles as a choir sang "Silent Night" in remembrance of two people who died on the streets.
"Our being here tonight is a commitment to making this memorial litany shorter and shorter each year," said Paul Kohlheim, Crisis Ministries board chairman.
The organization's annual event was a reminder that homelessness can be a life or death issue, like it was for Joyce Brook, 54, and Mikell Felder, 52. They had the same hopes, dreams, successes and failures that we all have, Kohlheim said.
"Most of us are comforted knowing we will go home to a warm meal and a safe place to sleep. We will leave here tonight to go home to a place we call home," he said.
Kohlheim said in an interview that he could not provide further information about Felder and Brook out of respect for their families.
On Thursday night, Crisis Ministries had taken in 156 men, women and children. "With the cold weather we are running at full capacity," said Stacey Denaux, the shelter chief executive officer.
When the temperature is forecast to be 40 degrees or lower, Crisis Ministries opens more areas of its facility to accommodate increased demand, she said.
Over the past 12 months, 318 families and individuals moved from homelessness to housing through the efforts of Crisis Ministries.
"We celebrate their successes and promise to work even harder for those who are still without a place to call home," Kohlheim said.
More than 4,000 volunteers help prepare and serve meals in the Crisis Ministries kitchen each year. Drives to collect food and supplies are conducted in the community to provide canned goods, cooking and cleaning supplies to operate the kitchen.
Katy Gerloff (right), with Crisis Ministries, Kyle Dooley, and Mary Matthews, with Crisis Ministries, listen to the invocation during a Crisis Ministries candlelight memorial service Thursday at Marion Square in memory of Mikell Felder and Joyce Brook, homeless people who died on the streets this year.×