Archive for the ‘News’ Category

October 2, 2016

In a moving and powerful gathering, the Homeless Remembrance Project Committee dedicated and laid nine new Leaves of Remembrance around Ballard Commons Park. In the words of our presider, Pastor Britt Olson of St Luke’s Episcopal Church, the ritual embodied “the paradox of how mourning and joy can co-exist.” The dedication was done just after a St Francis Day blessing-of-the-animals in the Park; we were joined by many friends and family members who gave special meaning to the experience. Thank you!
Nine Leaves prepared for dedication at Ballard Commons

Nine Leaves prepared for dedication

The dedication took place after the Blessing of the Animals

A large group attended the dedication, which took place after the Blessing of the Animals

One of the women shows Pastor Britt photos of her friends

One of the women shows Pastor Britt photos of her friends


Friends & family chose the location for Leaves, & also lay flowers & rosemary sprigs.

Friends & family chose the location for Leaves, & for flowers & rosemary sprigs.

The Zachariasen family

The Zachariasen family present to lay Leaves of Remembrance for Ann & Donnie.

Pastor Britt Olson of St Luke's Episcopal Church

Pastor Britt Olson of St Luke’s Episcopal Church



Leaves of Remembrance Dedication & Reception
NOON Sunday, October 2nd
at Ballard Commons Park
(57th NW & NW 22nd)

Reception to follow at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church
(5710 22nd Ave NW)

For more than a decade, The Homeless Remembrance Project–a collaborative community effort facilitated by the homeless women of WHEEL–has created places of hope, healing, and beauty to honor and remember homeless people who’ve died in King County.  The Project has two parts:  A beautiful “Tree of Life” sculpture and gathering place at Victor Steinbrueck Park (north of Pike Place Market), and “Leaves of Remembrance,” with names, embedded in sidewalks throughout the City.

ALL ARE INVITED TO WITNESS AND CELEBRATE the October 2nd dedication of NINE new “Leaves of Remembrance” around Ballard Commons Park (where 34 Leaves already are).

We’re remembering these beloved community members:
Jerry Burns, Selvin Iscoa, James Noren, Jonathan Stanton, Myles Carroll, Ann Zachariasen, Donald “Donnie” Zachariasen, Gary Oaks, & Corey Bardwell.

The event starts with a NOON Ceremony at the Park. Then there’ll be a chance to share stories, memories, and refreshments at a Reception hosted at St Luke’s Episcopal Church, 5710—22nd Avenue NW. Please join us!

For more information: (206) 956-0334 or email

Friday, July 29, the Homeless Remembrance Project Committee, in partnership with Seattle Mennonite Church, dedicated four new bronze Leaves of Remembrance in Lake City—for Scott Trezise, Eugene Menard, Steve Pond, and Robert Shand. Read the rest of this entry »

You’re warmly invited to witness and participate in our LAKE CITY LEAVES DEDICATION 3:30 PM FRIDAY, JULY 29th at Seattle Mennonite Church (3120 NE 125th).  We’ll be dedicating four beautiful new bronze Leaves of Remembrance:

Reception at Seattle Mennonite Church will follow the Dedication.

This year, Women in Black statistics have broken our hearts and all previous records: At least 60 women and men have died outside or by violence in King County through November. To reckon with this injustice and remember those lost, we stood with friends, supporters, and faith community leaders on the Solstice, the Longest Night of the year, which was designated “National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day.” We gathered at sunset (4:20 PM) at our Tree of Life in Victor Steinbrueck Park, then silently walked through the Market to Westlake Park, where we stood for an hour-long vigil. Afterwards, we gathered together to share and remember those lost.

Reverend Pat Simpson’s words from the ceremony:

“Friends, we have gathered here on the longest night of the year. Long before people knew about the Earth’s tilted axis and its orbit around the sun, they understood these rhythms. In our northern latitudes the nights grow longer until we reach this hinge moment. Though spring will be a long time coming, the turning begins now, toward the light. Hope begins in darkness.

In that spirit we remember the dead this night—60 people who died while homeless in our community during the past year. They were our neighbors, and in some cases our friends and kin. Many died heartbreakingly young, many by violence or accident. Even deaths we might call “natural” cause us to lament – for no one should have to die without shelter and safety. No one should have to live that way.

We will remember these sisters and brothers with the simplest of rituals. Their names will be read, and we respond to each one by saying “We remember you.” One by one around the circle we’ll light a candle for each person as the name is read. Please hold your candles until all the names are read, and then I’ll invite you to place them around the Tree.

Now, please take hands with your neighbor, or make eye contact as a sign of our unity. We are one community. All kinds of people, all kinds of circumstances—we share the turning seasons, the sorrow of all this dying, and the outrage that fuels our action.

May we also be blessed with hope this season, so that in the growing light of days to come we will have strength to build a kinder world.”

Gathering at the Tree of Life.

Lighting candles.

Lighting candles.

Silent, meditative walk through Pike Place Market.

Silent, meditative walk through Pike Place Market.

Supporters and WHEEL members in the Market.

Vigil at Westlake Park.

More supporters vigiling at Westlake Park.

Vigil participants Monica and Jean.

Stalwart Leafleter Tricia.

Vigil at Westlake Park.

Closing circle.

The Tree of Life encircled with 60 Lights—one for each person remembered.

Candles for those remembered.

CandleWHEEL/Mary’s Place  WOMEN IN BLACK
Winter Solstice Vigil
MONDAY, DECEMBER 21st – starts at SUNSET (4:20 PM)
then silent procession to Silent Vigil at Westlake Park (4th & Pine)5-6 PM then Post-Vigil Gathering @ the SHARE/WHEEL Offices (b/w 2nd & 3rd off Stewart)

December 21st is the Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year.  

The National Coalition for the Homeless designates it “National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day.”  On this day, WHEEL (a grassroots organizing effort) and Mary’s Place (an ecumenical ministry) will stand a special one-hour, candlelight, Women in Black vigil to remember all the homeless men and women who have died this year outside or by violence in King County.  

Since our vigils began almost 15 years ago, more than 600 men, women and children have died outside or by violence.  In 2015, we’ve broken our hearts and all previous records:  at least 60 people have died already—at the average age of 48 years old.


Please join us for our Women in Black Solstice activities, starting at sunset (4:20 PM) at our Tree of Life!  Women and men are welcome; candles are provided, and we’ll join together for a post-vigil gathering to share stories, fellowship and comfort!

FOR MORE INFO:  WHEEL (206) 956-0334

Download flyer for printing

On Saturday, September 26th, out of the Mary’s Place morning worship service at Gethsemane Lutheran Church, we blessed and dedicated six new Leaves of Remembrance for our beloved sisters Phyllis Detienne, Susi Henderson, Kim Winters, Mai Huynh, Gail Nora Brackeen, and Sally Corbett. Here are a few photos from the ceremony.

Naomi Watson shares memories of her sister, Kim Winters

Mary’s Place staffer Liz shares stories of these beloved women.

Gethsemane Lutheran Church Pastor Joanne Engquist, Mary’s Place Pastor Monica Corsaro, and Liz McDaniel help lead the Dedication.

Laying and blessing a new Leaf.

Gathering before the Leaf Dedication

We dedicated and blessed two Leaves of Remembrance at University Temple United Methodist Church on September 25th, for John Read Avery and Lorraine Wong. We were honored to be joined by many from the University Temple ministries (the Friday Feast, the Thrift Shop, the Urban Rest Stop, ROOTS, the Needle Exchange) and by Emerald City Metropolitan Community Church. Childhood friends of John Read Avery and many who knew Lorraine Wong joined us and shared stories and memories of the beloved and real people they lost—too young—to homelessness.

John Read Avery’s childhood friends, Jim and Ron.

Pastors Pat Simpson of U Temple UMC and Brian Hutchison of Emerald City Metropolitan Community Church preside.

Gathering to dedicate Leaves for John Read Avery and Lorraine Wong.

The U Temple Thrift Store ladies listen to the blessing.

Pastor Brian Hutchison.

Jim and Ron, John Avery’s friends, share stories.

John Read Avery’s Leaf.

Lorraine Wong’s Leaf.

Homeless Remembrance Project Leaf Affixer Doug Hobkirk (known as our Glue-Down Guy) does his work.

John’s Leaf is affixed.

bronze leaf reading ''ALL ARE INVITED TO CELEBRATE the September 26th blessing and dedication of six “Leaves of Remembrance” at a new site: Mary’s Place, which is hosted by Gethsemane Lutheran Church. The Leaves will be placed in front of the Stewart Street entrance to Gethsemane Church (911 Stewart).

We are remembering these beloved community members:
Phyllis Detienne
Susi Henderson
Sally Corbett
Kim Winters
Mai Huynh
Gail Nora Brackeen

The event starts with an 11:40 am Blessing and Dedication, and then there’ll be a chance to share stories and memories.  Please join us!

bronze leaf reading ''ALL ARE INVITED TO CELEBRATE the September 25th blessing and dedication of two “Leaves of Remembrance” in front of the 15th Ave NE entrance to University Temple United Methodist Church (1415 NE 43rd).

We are remembering these beloved community members:
John Read Avery and
Lorraine Wong

The event starts with a 4:30 Blessing and Dedication, and then there’ll be a chance to share stories and memories.  Please join us!


On June 18th, more than 80 people gathered to lay down and bless three new Leaves of Remembrance around Ballard Commons Park. They were homeless, once-homeless and never-been-homeless people gathered together, and the feeling of community love and spirit was extraordinary and profound. Early on, a Bridge Care Center worker had to go across the street to St. Luke’s church to fetch a box of Kleenex. Through the afternoon, many tears of grief and joy were shed.

The Ballard dedication timeline was driven by a special request made by Evelyn and Brian Gooch, parents of Dana “Fish” Gooch, whose Leaf was laid that day. Just two days after the Dedication Ritual, the Gooch parents were leaving Seattle, to enjoy their retirement in Arizona. They said goodbye to Seattle—and their beloved son—at our Leaf-laying Ritual.

We were blessed to watch them speak to their son through our Leaf for him, and also to witness them reaching out the hands of loving kindness to all of his friends and street family. It was wrenching to watch Fish’s parents say their final goodbyes.

Although they couldn’t always be together, Dana “Fish” Gooch never abandoned his family, nor they him. Dozens of Gooches were at the Dedication: his ex-partner, nieces, nephews, siblings and wonderfully community-centered parents. “Fish” was a special one, and many beautiful stories about his generosity and love were told.

Roger Andrews and Michael Franklin were also honored with Leaves at Ballard Commons, and friends and family came to remember their lives. One hilarious story, shared by a Ballard Foodbank staffer, involved the ever-entreprenurial Roger finding an abandoned commercial dryer in the parking lot of an industrial area in Ballard. “Wow,” Roger thought to himself, “it’d be great to sleep inside this dryer because, well, at least I’ll be dry!” This worked like a charm, but only until a delivery truck parked in front of the front-loading dryer door, preventing Roger’s exit-upon-awakening. It took a long time—Roger banging and shouting—before someone came, moved the truck, and finally let Roger out of his dry sleeping spot.

Not many stories about Michael were shared, since he was a very private and proud person who died alone in his RV in south Ballard. When it came time to select the placement location for his Leaf, Ballard outreach volunteer Jenn Adams said, “Well, this’ll be hard, since he didn’t like ANYBODY!” Eventually we found a semi-private sidewalk patch for Michael’s Leaf, alongside two folks he found tolerable in his lifetime. And so it goes.

Towards the end of the Dedication, Brian Gooch said—sweeping his arms around the large gathered crowd—“I thank each of you for every extra month, week, day, minute you gave our son with your love!”

May we take that as our marching order—to do the best we can shelter our homeless brothers, sisters, moms, dads, and children with love.

Preparing for the Dedication.

Brian and Evelyn Gooch, Dana “Fish” Gooch’s parents.

Brian Gooch, addressing his son Dana “FIsh” Gooch’s friends and family at the Dedication.

Betsy Greenman of the Homeless Remembrance Project leads the Dedication Ritual at Ballard Commons Park.

Gathering in remembrance.

Dana “Fish” Gooch’s family.

Friends, family, and supporters.

Not a dry eye in the park.

Homeless Remembrance Project Committee leader Betsy Greenman leading the Ritual.

Roger Andrews’ friend shares stories.

Ballard Food Bank staffer sharing the Roger-sleeping-in-a-commercial-dryer story.

Bobbie Newcomer

Jenn Adams talks of Michael Franklin.

Brian and Evelyn Gooch say goodbye to their son Dana.

Saying goodbye.

Reverend Pat Simpson of the Homeless Remembrance Project leads the final blessing of the Leaves.

A toast to Roger and other fallen friends.

Leaves Reception in the park, with refreshments provided by WHEEL’s Women’s Empowerment Center, Mary’s Place, and the Bridge Care Center.

Leaves Reception.

Love and comfort.

Leaf-Affixer Doug, with Gooches gathered behind.

Renee Black and Jenn Adams from Bridge Care Center.

Dana and Roger’s Leaves.

Ballard Commons Park Leaves.

HRP 2015 solstice celebration leaflet

HRP North End Dedications June 2015-page-001

roger and his leafOn November 19th, 2014, the Homeless Remembrance Project received a very unusual, touching, unprecedented Leaf Request, from a curmudgeonly, loveable 57-year-old Seahawks fan named Roger Andrews, who’d been homeless for a decade mostly in Ballard before moving to Nyer Urness House two years ago.  He was in hospice, with a terminal cancer diagnosis.  The prognosis wasn’t good:  perhaps six weeks, at most.

His former Case Manager, Beth, had taken Roger out in his wheelchair for a jaunt around Ballard, and they stopped to visit the Leaves of Remembrance around Ballard Commons Park. Roger remarked on how many of his friends, his “street family,” were remembered with Leaves there.  He said that he would like a Leaf of Remembrance, and that he would like to see his Leaf, hold it in his hands, and perhaps even see it installed before his death.  Beyond his street family and circle of caregivers, he has no family here, and he had been out of contact with his blood relations since he was a teenager.

Beth reached out to us to tell us this story.  In talking it over, we began thinking about how it might be possible, and even right and good, to engrave a Leaf for Roger now, with his name and year of birth, in order to fulfill his dying wish for a palpable remembrance, and to let him know with certainty that there WILL be a legacy for him here in Seattle.  In some ways, this is no different than how many families deal with marble headstones:  names and years of birth are already engraved, waiting for the end to come, and the year of death is engraved later on.

rogers friends and his leafWe felt that honoring Roger’s request might help him reckon with his final days, and might also be a call and a manifestation of our “ministry” of Leaves.  So, with the help of our engraver, we quickly struck a spare Leaf with Roger’s name and year of birth.  By that time, Roger was doing very poorly.  We’d hoped to go to Ballard Commons Park with him to do a blessing ceremony there, and to have him show us where he’d like his Leaf to be someday.

toasting rogerInstead, Reverend Pat Simpson led a bedside memorial at the nursing home.  Several of Roger’s friends from Nyer Urness and his street family joined us.  They came prepared to celebrate—and also to say goodbye to their beloved friend.  We held hands, we toasted Roger with red plastic cups full of beer, we blessed him and his Leaf, and told him he will never be forgotten.

On December 19th, we received this message from Beth:

“I wanted to let you know that Roger died this morning.  I’m told he had a peaceful death and I was able to go and say goodbye to him earlier today. Up until the end he was showing off his maple leaf and I truly believe that he was the most joyful I had ever seen him when speaking about it these last few days…Thanks again for helping make Roger’s wish come true.”

Roger’s Leaf was placed at Ballard Commons Park in Spring 2015.

On December 21st, the longest night of the year, Women in Black held a candlelight Winter Solstice Vigil, beginning at the Tree of Life in Victor Steinbrueck Park at sunset, to remember and honor the homeless people in our community who died outside or by violence in 2014. The ritual was led by Rev. Pat Simpson and Rev. Brandon Duran.

After the ceremony at the Tree of Life, we walked silently through Pike Place Market, candles in hand, to Westlake Park, where we stood silent vigil for one hour for 41 individuals. 

Placing candles around the Tree of Life for all those who have died this year.

Candles in memory.

Gathering around the Tree of Life for the Ceremony.

Standing vigil at Westlake Park.

Carol Cameron and Rev. Pat Simpson.

Supporters standing vigil.

Gathering together.

Featured Leaf Aug ’18
Tessie Comeslast

Tessie Comeslast

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