Community Memorial Planned for 'Artie'
Jan 15, 2018 09:46AM ● Published by Jeanne Fratello
The vigil will be held on Friday, January 19, at 6:30 p.m., at the end of the bark trail at the Sepulveda overpass behind Fry's.
Organizer Ed Balazs, a Manhattan Beach resident, said that the event would begin with a small prayer from the Rev. William L. Hurst, to be followed by memories or thoughts to be shared by community members who come to pay their respects.
"Our real motivation hasn't been about how many people show up, but more about making sure he is remembered and gets a proper goodbye," said Balazs.
Not much is known about Artie or his background, but those who would stop and chat with him knew that religion was an important part of his life.
"We know he spent most of his time listening to music, reading the Bible and noting Bible verse numbers in many journals," said Balazs. "Thus, we just didn't think it would be fair for him to not have prayers said for him by a member of the clergy. In turn, we saw the response to my post on NextDoor.com - which was overwhelming compared to what was expected - and wanted to give others a chance to participate in this goodbye to Artie with us."
After word spread about the memorial, several people who remember Artie stepped up and volunteered to bring candles and food. Balasz added that his family would also bring coffee, water, and Monster energy drinks ("Artie loved Monster energy drinks").
Balazs said that his family came to know Artie three years ago when Balazs's then 8-year-old son was worried about him and wanted to bring him pizza. Over the years, the Balazs family brought him food, shoes, a blanket, batteries for his Walkman-style radio, and more.
Balazs estimated that Artie was in his 20s or 30s, and though he is believed to have suffered from diabetes, "he didn't want to live in a shelter and was happy in his world."
The city of Manhattan Beach, like many cities and municipalities across Los Angeles County, primarily interacts with its homeless populations through a Mental Health Evaluation Team, which consists of a clinician from the L.A. County Department of Mental Health paired with a local police officer. According to Manhattan Beach Community Affairs Officer Kristie Colombo, the team knew Artie and was familiar with his case.
Those who wish to make a donation in Artie's honor are asked to consider two local organizations that care for the homeless: Harbor Interfaith and South Bay Coalition to End Homelessness.