Showing compassion toward the homeless was among the strongest messages given to a crowd of about 115 people of all faiths at the 24th annual Mayor’s Interfaith Community Prayer Breakfast at the Encinitas Community and Senior Center on May 4.
The event, held on the National Day of Prayer, welcomed about a half-dozen religious and community leaders of various faiths to address the crowd.
Mayor Catherine Blakespear, in her opening speech, urged those in attendance to think about the homeless.
While the attendees woke up in the morning under warm covers, with the luxury of taking a hot shower immediately after, Blakespear reminded them that those living on the streets weren’t as fortunate.
“Most of the things we take for granted are a luxury they can’t afford,” she said.
Blakespear noted the 2017 Point-in-Time Count, in which volunteers ventured across the city on an early January morning to count the homeless. According to that survey, homelessness is up in the city, with 117 individuals living on the streets or in shelters in Encinitas, compared to 93 people last year.
She said finding help for these individuals is one of the city’s top priorities. Last year, through its “Opening Doors” program, the city housed 19 people previously living on the streets of Encinitas.
“When I think about the combination of unfortunate circumstances that must exist for someone to live unsheltered on the street, I recommit the city, in partnership with our community organizations the Community Resource Center and Interfaith Community Service, to do what we can to create a better future for our most vulnerable community members,” she said.
Greg Anglea, executive director of Interfaith Community Services, urged the crowd to think of the different perspectives that people have.
Interfaith Community Services recently made and donated 1,200 hot meals for about 200 people living on the streets, he said. Additionally, the program helped 691 homeless individuals move into homes in the last year.
To those people, a hot meal and shelter are rare.
“When you don’t have those things, it makes a world of difference,” he said. “We need to understand we all have valid perspectives.”
Prayers for the youth, community, world peace and spiritual growth were also given.