Alaska winter & homelessness — we must be ready

In October, our thoughts turn to winter in Alaska. Light is dwindling and the weather is growing colder. For some that may bring joy; time in a warm house with comforting food and people nearby. For those who are homeless, however, October in Anchorage is the beginning of a long, cold period where daily activities are more difficult because of weather and darkness.

For many in Anchorage, the plight of our homeless community members has been front and center all summer. It has been a very challenging summer and fall, because of the increased number of deaths and drug overdoses among the population we serve at Brother Francis Shelter. Now winter begins. We want to begin it right.

On the feast of Saint Francis, in honor of members of our community who were homeless and who died in the past year, the Brother Francis Shelter Advisory Council is holding a candlelight vigil. The vigil will take place on Oct. 4, 6-7 p.m., at the Delaney Park Strip (1310 W. 10th Ave., between G & E Street). This is a chance to pray and remember those who have died, as well as honor the feast of Saint Francis, and highlight the serious issues related to homelessness in our community. We also want to express our deep gratitude to all of the people who contribute to and support efforts to serve our homeless brothers and sisters.

The Brother Francis Shelter Advisory Council has worked since the Shelter opened in 1982 to increase awareness of the issue of homelessness and the daily plight of our guests at the Brother Francis Shelter. They are dedicated individuals who continue to demonstrate their compassion for those in need over more than 30 years. Catholic Social Services, Brother Francis Shelter and the Municipality of Anchorage are fortunate to have these dedicated souls working with us.

Saint Francis was a servant to the poor and we at Catholic Social Services hope to emulate that in our services at the Brother Francis Shelter. We work to provide a safe shelter for those in need and services and support to get them out of homelessness and poverty. I hope you will join us for our Oct. 4 vigil. If you are interested in supporting our effort to address homelessness in our community, I encourage you to visit our website to find out more about our programs. We wish all of you, and everyone in our community, a blessed winter.

“All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle.” — Saint Francis of Assisi

The writer is executive director of Catholic Social Services in Alaska. For more information about CSS, call 276-5590 or visit

'Alaska winter & homelessness — we must be ready'
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