20th Annual Homeless Vigil Memorializes 150

Photo by Krystal Ramirez

Photo by Krystal Ramirez

At dusk on December 17, about 50 people gathered in the cold on the sidewalk in front of the Lloyd D. George U.S. Courthouse on Las Vegas Boulevard. As the quarter-moon took light, Thomas “Chicago” Randle El welcomed the assembled—a mix of homeless people and those working at various agencies that help them.

Randle El, the widower of Linda Lera-Randle El, has continued her life’s work, Straight From the Streets. Through the nonprofit organization, Linda, who died in 2014, fought for the rights of the homeless and worked passionately to help them. Many felt the weight of her absence at this year’s 20th anniversary of the annual Homeless Vigil.

Several community leaders and faith leaders, including Las Vegas Christian Church Pastor John Gee and Congregation Tikvah P’nai Rabbi Yockeved Mintz, spoke at the event, which included a reading of all 150 names of the homeless who died in 2015. Chaplain Walter Poston gave an impassioned reading of Psalm 23. Marjorie Lough shared an account of her son’s heroine addiction and her hope for addicts living on the streets.

“I don’t know who my son is now,” she said. “But a mother’s love is strong.”

As the lights of the Stratosphere twinkled just down the road, Chicago read the names, with help from others. “We started with 147 names, but we just found out about three more tonight,” he said.

Many in the audience, holding lit candles, cried for the dearly departed.

To donate or get involved with homeless services, or if you need services, contact Help of Southern Nevada at 702-369-4357.