GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - A well-known homeless advocate in the Gulfport community is speaking up about what she is calling a big concern. Lynda Favre says one of the three homeless deaths in the span of a month hit especially hard. Now, she is calling on the community to help her do something about getting the homeless off the streets.
"It's almost like Jan. 1, was not only a new year, but a new awakening with Russell Bangs dying that very day," said Favre.
A wooden cross, potted plants and floating roses still mark the spot where Bangs' lifeless body was found on New Year's Day. Favre, who has been serving the needs of the homeless for decades on the Coast, says the death of Bangs was a turning point for her mission.
"We need to do something. This is the year we really need to wake up. I mean Jan. 1, our resolution should be to resolve this," said Favre.
She is referring to the recent accidental deaths of three local homeless people. People who may not have had a place to call home, but were still loved by someone. People who may have just fallen on hard times or just couldn't shake bad habits.
"These homeless people, I mean these campers, that are struggling and let them know that their lives are not in vain. They have meaning and worth," said Favre.
Favre's nonprofit, Shepherd of the Gulf, hosts annual events to feed and clothe the homeless, but still she says that's not enough. It's time a facility opens to help get them off the streets.
"We're talking about drug rehab programs, alcohol rehab programs, mental health programs, even job skill training programs," said Favre.
While there are currently no plans in the works to build such a facility, she is praying that there are enough people in the community who want to help and support this vision.
"Hopefully in the future, instead of seeing someone on the street corner with a sign saying, "I'm hungry can you spare money?" Instead of doing that, take that money that you have given for a blanket or gloves or whatever, donate it to that facility to keep it running," said Favre.
Favre says she has spoken to city leaders in Gulfport, many of whom do support her vision. However, there is still much work that needs to be done in order to get the ball rolling.
If you want to join Favre's efforts, you can give her a call at 228-229-8980.