In the past, the shelter always had hosted the Grate American Sleep-Out, named after the grates found on the streets of bigger cities where people would stand to stay warm. As the years went by, the crowd got smaller, and then about five years ago, the shelter dropped it in favor of a rally.
The rally since has taken place in Tracy Park, but this year was moved to the front porch of the shelter on Eighth Street.
Maureen Cadogan, of Scioto County Homeless Shelter, said the rally always takes place the week before Thanksgiving, when it's often very cold, and during the event guests typically are asked to remove their coats for a moment to feel the cold air around them and imagine living like that all day, every day. Because of the balmy weather, however, this portion of the ceremony was skipped this year.
With Veterans Day just behind us, she pointed out veterans are a quickly-growing group of people experiencing homelessness.
“We have, in essence, become a community response to homelessness. There are a number of churches that have been such a blessing. Without their help, we'd have been closed a long time ago,” Cadogan said.
During the rally on Wednesday, the crowd listened to a performance by the Portsmouth Show Choir. Cadogan said there also were proclamations by the Portsmouth mayor and Scioto County Commissioners, but because neither could attend the rally, she did not expect to read them.
“We want everyone to know that homelessness is a reality. We want to generate awareness about the reality and the severity of homelessness,” Cadogan said.
She said since the doors of the shelter opened in 1997, they have served 4,279 people. Of that total, she said there were: