SALT LAKE CITY — A crowd gathered in Pioneer Park in Salt Lake City Thursday night to remember the homeless that lost their lives in 2017. Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski declared it "Homeless Persons' Memorial Day."
"I didn't know people had this big of a heart," said Blanca Miranda, who was overwhelmed and moved to tears by the turnout from the community. Miranda was homeless a few months ago. She said she turned her life around with the help of Operation Rio Grande and has now been sober for nearly 2 months.
"If I can do it, anybody can," she added.
She recognized a handful of the 160 names that were read aloud Thursday night.
Operation Rio Grande has sought to separate the homeless who are need of assistance from the drug users and dealers mixed in on the street with them.
"I think it's working," said Carl Spitzmacher, a homeless man who lost his friend to drug addiction a few years ago.
"We've been doing so much work to try and minimize homelessness," said Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams. "We look at data and stats, but tonight is remembering that these are people. They're somebody's son, daughter, father and mother. It really brings home the work we are trying to do to get them back on their feet."