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Vigil Honors Lives Lost
Mourners gather in quiet reflection, candles lit for a Thursday night vigil in Oakdales Wood Park, honoring the lives of two local homeless residents who recently passed away. A release of doves was also part of the vigil. Marg Jackson/The Leader

A Thursday night candlelight vigil in the city’s downtown Wood Park drew roughly 150 people, of all ages, to come and celebrate the lives yet mourn the loss of two local homeless residents.

Friends and family members, along with community members, attended the ceremony, which included remarks from representatives of the Oakdale Rescue Mission as well as a table set up with information and some snacks provided by the Center for Human Services.

The gathering was in honor of Tammy Smith, who passed away on Feb. 26 at the age of 54 and Jesse McCartney, who passed away on March 10, at the age of 31. Both had been on the streets of Oakdale and were part of its homeless community.

Set for a 7 p.m. start, the crowd was welcomed and then a special release of white doves was conducted, with songs and the lighting of the candles following as darkness settled in.

Speakers shared some stories of the two and many of the local homeless were in attendance, standing together with residents there to support them as they dealt with the loss of their friends.

The Oakdale Rescue Mission is seeking to provide a service center to help with résumé writing, a place to clean up and be connected with available services, as a way to help the transient population.

Organizers thanked those attending and many stayed after the actual ceremony to share memories and pause to reflect at the photo boards set up for the event.