51 deceased service recipients, Sherry Gamble-Smith honored at Day Center's annual memorial service
A prominent community member was among those honored at the Tulsa Day Center Service of Remembrance Wednesday night, but her recognition didn’t overshadow the tens of others who were also honored at the ceremony.
At its annual ceremony Wednesday night, Tulsa Day Center honored the lives of 51 people who died in 2022 and either received services from the center at some point in 2022, and four others who either worked for the center or served on its board.
Former Black Wall Street Chamber of Commerce president Sherry Gamble Smith was one of those honored at the ceremony.
A University of California San Francisco study published this year shows elderly unhoused people are three and a half times more likely to die prematurely than elderly people with shelter. Day Center assistant director Noe Rodriguez said he had formed personal connections with some of the people on the list.
"Forgive me if I kind of pause at some point, because, you know, making connections with people that have passed away and seeing their names on this paper, it just makes me remember them," Rodriguez said.
After Rodriguez read each of the names of the unhoused people at the center who died in 2022, the crowd present held candles and sang “silent night.”
Gamble-Smith was killed by her husband in July in a murder-suicide. She served on the Day Center board.
Day Center executive director Mack Haltom said Smith’s enthusiasm and love for all people was infectious.
"She'll be sorely missed, not only at the Tulsa Day Center, but for the community of Tulsa," Haltom said.
Kisha Alexander, a case worker at the day center, was also honored at the memorial service. Her mother Mildred Thomas spoke at the ceremony in her honor.
Thomas said Alexander treated her job like a ministry, and that she changed her perspective on homelessness.
"On her death bed, she was still talking to her clients," Thomas said.
The Day Center, Salvation Army and John 3:16 Mission are working Thursday and Friday to get unhoused people out of the cold weather.