Press Release: Operation Safety Net® to Host Candlelight Memorial Service for Homeless

OPERATION SAFETY NET® TO HOST CANDLELIGHT MEMORIAL SERVICE TO REMEMBER PEOPLE WHO DIED WHILE HOMELESS IN 2012

Annual public vigil to take place on December 21, the longest night of the year

WHAT:  Operation Safety Net’s annual candlelight memorial service to remember people who died while homeless in 2012.  In Allegheny County, seven individuals are known to have died while living on the streets in 2012.*

WHO: Pittsburgh Mercy Health System and Operation Safety Net leadership, homeless service providers, physicians, nurses, case managers, social workers, volunteers, and others who care for and/or serve persons who are homeless. The service is free and open to the public.

WHEN: Friday, December 21, 2012, from 7 to 8 p.m.

WHERE: Grant Street and Fort Pitt Boulevard, Downtown Pittsburgh. There, beneath a busy highway overpass, a memorial wall of bronze plaques commemorates more than 125 people who are known to have died while homeless since 1991.

WHY: December 21 is National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day. Pittsburgh is among more than 150 U.S. cities to take part in related observances. On this date – the winter solstice and the longest night of the year – and each year since 1990, the National Coalition for the Homeless and homeless service providers throughout the United States host events to call attention to the plight of people who live on the streets. Operation Safety Net®, part of the Pittsburgh Mercy Health System and sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy, has organized the vigil in Pittsburgh every year since 1998. The public is invited and encouraged to attend. Donations of new men’s and ladies’ hats, gloves, and socks will be collected for distribution by Operation Safety Net to persons served at the Severe Weather Emergency Shelter. Monetary donations are also welcome at www.pmhs.org.  When making a donation online, please designate the gift for Operation Safety Net.

About Operation Safety Net®
Operation Safety Net® is Pittsburgh Mercy Health System’s award-winning, innovative medical and social service outreach program for the unsheltered homeless population in Allegheny County. It strives to address the circumstances which undermine the mental and physical health of persons served by creating avenues for people who are homeless to access the medical and social services that are necessary for them to improve their quality of life. Since its founding in 1992, Operation Safety Net has reached approximately 10,000 homeless individuals with more than 68,000 visits where they live – in camps along riverbanks, in alleyways, or beneath bridges and highway overpasses – and has successfully helped more than 850 individuals who were once homeless to find homes of their own. In doing so, Operation Safety Net not only assists with providing health care and affordable housing, but also offers this vulnerable population hope, dignity, and a sense of community. Operation Safety Net is part of the Pittsburgh Mercy Health System and Catholic Health East, sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy. To learn more or to make a donation in support of its important work in the community, visit www.pmhs.org.

About Pittsburgh Mercy Health System
Pittsburgh Mercy Health System (PMHS), part of Catholic Health East and sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy, is one of the region’s largest health and social service nonprofits and also one of its largest employers. PMHS includes A Child’s Place at Mercy, McAuley Ministries, Mercy Behavioral Health, Mercy Community Health, Mercy Intellectual Disabilities Services, Mercy Parish Nurse and Health Ministry Program, Operation Safety Net®, and Pittsburgh Mercy Family Health Center. Together, these PMHS programs and its 1,700 employees serve more than 26,000 individuals annually at more than 60 locations in Southwestern Pennsylvania. To learn more about PMHS or to make a donation in support of its important work in the community, visit www.pmhs.org.

*Source: Operation Safety Net, December 17, 2012

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