A Look Back at One Organizational Member’s Summer Solstice Success Celebration

We are excited to spotlight the efforts of our Organizational Member Alameda County Health Care for the Homeless (Oakland, CA) in joining other HCH programs across the United States to honor Summer Solstice Success Celebrations. Read more about Alameda’s event below, or visit our Summer Solstice resources to learn how other programs celebrated in 2018.

Homelessness Is Not Permanent! 

On June 21, 2018 the longest day of the year, the Alameda County Health Care for the Homeless Consumer/Community Advisory Board (HCH CCAB), along with staff of the HCH Program and Lifelong TRUST health center, celebrated the strengths and success of people who are overcoming incredible barriers to gain housing, create community and support our common mission of ending homelessness.

The Summer Solstice is the first day of summer and the longest day of the year. It is a day filled with light, and it is one in which we can honor the strength, resilience, and spirit of individuals who have overcome the multitude of obstacles people experiencing homelessness face in obtaining stable housing. For years we have observed the Winter Solstice, the darkest day, by mourning those who have died on the streets in homelessness. This was the first time the HCH CCAB celebrated the Summer Solstice.

The HCH CCAB joined partner programs in New York City, Miami, Baltimore, Seattle, San Francisco, in their Solstice celebration, coordinated through the National Health Care for the Homeless Council’s National Consumer Advisory Board (NCAB).

The celebration included a luncheon served to some 60 participants without homes by HCH and Lifelong staff. Participants enjoyed inspirational music performed by Brenda Whitfield and Tom Rudderow. Master of Ceremonies Bennie Whitfield and other HCH CCAB members presented five community members with Local Hero Awards, and each gave a speech. The awardees included:

  • Nino Parker: Inspiring and leading all through energetic organizing for homeless-led cleanup work, self-organizing and support services to those living alongside him at the Lake Merritt encampment.
  • Janny Castillo: For year years of dedicated service, support and organizing of aging people experiencing homelessness as a beloved member of St. Mary’s Senior Center, WRAP and many community organizations.
  • Kimberlee Burks: Honored for her years of struggle to overcome homelessness and her strength and love in supporting countless persons in the Hayward area as an advocate, organizer, and friend.
  • Pastor Preston Walker: Celebrated for his political wisdom, his organizing, drive and focus in meeting the spiritual and health needs of people experiencing homelessness in downtown Oakland.
  • Mavin Carter-Griffin: Saluted for her dedicated and determined organizing and leadership at the Wood Street encampment in Oakland, representing for the rights of people experiencing homelessness on an international stage.

Each awardee gave a heartfelt and uplifting speech, inspiring and moving the 60+ attendees and staff. The event was followed with a raffle including prizes donated by members of the Alameda County Board of Supervisors, Lifelong Medical Care, and East Oakland Community Project. The HCH CCAB would like to thank all our supporters and salute the strength and resiliency of all the folks who participated this year. See you next Solstice!