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Light of Hope memorial to be dedicated to homeless man

A Light of Hope memorial is being planned for the late Harley Lawrence, who died on Oct. 23, 2013. CONTRIBUTED
A Light of Hope memorial is being planned for the late Harley Lawrence, who died on Oct. 23, 2013. - Contributed

A memorial, called Light of Hope, is planned to remember the tragic death of a homeless man in Berwick six years ago.

The body of 62-year-old Harley Lawrence was found in a burned-out bus shelter on Commercial Street on Oct. 23, 2013. Lawrence, who was well known to the community, was sleeping in the shelter at the time.

Two men were convicted for his murder and sentenced to prison.

Bruce Caldwell is with Open Arms Resource Centre, in Kentville. During an interview, he said Lawrence was well known to the charity, which offers assistance to many marginalized people in the Valley.

“He had spent quite a bit of time in front of Tim Horton’s in Berwick. He just sat there, and people would give him money for coffee. He had suffered for years with his mental illness, and he just didn't trust people. He just wanted to be on his own. He never harmed anybody,” Caldwell said.

“Every year, around the date of the 23rd, we do a service. The family of Harley Lawrence is always present. Folks are invited to gather to honour the memory of Harley.

“This event has become a time to remember all of those who suffer around us. It’s important to remember them because any one of us could be homeless. You lose your job; you lose your spouse, you lose your family. It could be us, and we are not the one to judge people. We need to help those who need help. And we need to honour the memory of those who suffered and did not get help.”

John Andrew is also with Open Arms Resource centre. In a statement, he said:

“The tragic death of Harley Lawrence did much to open our eyes and soften our hearts to the plight of people who are on the street. Originally a memorial for Harley, this event has become a night to remember all of those who suffer around us, but especially those who have been lost to addiction, mental illness or died on the street.

“Please join us for this time of prayer and remembrance and in committing ourselves to be lights of hope in dark places.”

The Light of Hope memorial service will be held on Sunday, Oct. 20, from 2-3 p.m., at a memorial garden created in 2014, near the location of the bus shelter where he was found. The garden was funded by donations given during a vigil held in Berwick at the time of his death.

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