SIOUX FALLS, S.D (KELO)– Monday marks the start of Hunger and Homeless Awareness Week across the county.

Local non-profits and other organizations took time for a memorial remembering those who have died due to the homelessness issue.

So far this year, 40 people have passed away due to homelessness…

Today, they were remembered at a memorial event near the Big Sioux River.

“They have been hungry, they have been homeless, they may have been homeless in their lifetime, they may have been homeless at the time of their death. And they are all our brothers and sisters,” said Madeline Shields, Executive Director at Bishop Dudley Hospitality House.

Each person was recognized with a purple flag and words from friends and family. Roechelle Williams knew three of the people who died.

“It does not get easier. And unfortunately, while we’re in the season of giving, and we’re approaching holidays, you know, this is not just an issue that touches our community at this time of year. It is year long,” said Roechelle Williams, Community Health Worker at Union Gospel Mission.

Williams was homeless before getting a job at the Union Gospel Mission, now she works to help others find better situations.

“It took more than nine agencies to get us from homelessness to house. And so I’m just very fortunate and thankful that I now get to lend to that hand back to others who are in need,” Williams said.

Throughout the week, non-profits and other organizations will host events to raise awareness for the thousands of people facing hunger and homelessness in Sioux Falls and surrounding communities.

“This is a week that we can all just take pause and say what can we do to help those folks in our community who are struggling, who just need a little bit of help, so that they can get back on track and finish this journey that we call life,” Shields said.

Other organizations participating in the awareness week include:

Call to Freedom

The Banquet

Minnehaha County (Safe Home)

Union Gospel Mission

Center of Hope 

Journey of Hope

St. Francis House

211 Helpline Center