Community gathers to remember beloved local homeless man

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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — Dozens surrounded the Broadway stage Monday to say goodbye to a man who was a beloved fixture in Uptown Columbus. Jerry Mercer’s friends joined Uptown leaders to tell their stories about the man who was so much more than just a member of the homeless community.

Those who attended Jerry Mercer’s remembrance Monday say the man was known for so much more than his homelessness.

“He had come to the SafeHouse and truth be known, it was 13 degrees outside and he was bringing people to spend the night with us, but he never spent the night. He said I got enough gear. I’m good, but I’m making sure people that are at risk get in,” remembers Neil Richardson of the SafeHouse Ministries community shelter and Muscogee County Jail Chaplain.

“When my journey brought me to homelessness down here, Jerry took me under his wing,” a woman named Sheryl, a fellow member of the homeless community, tearfully recalls.

Around 50 people crowded the Uptown Columbus Broadway stage to tell their stories about Jerry’s kindness, his love for the street he called his home, and his quirks that will be missed.

“He was really special to us, and I guess I can say now that Jerry worked for Uptown for a number of years,” says Ross Horner of Uptown Columbus.

“I’m going to miss the man and his short coughs and giving him cigarettes, and he always asked for odd amounts of change,” remembers the owner of Fountain City Coffee.

Chaplain Richardson says an event like this also helps raise awareness for the love Columbus has to share and breaks down barriers separating the homeless community.

“It makes you feel like people value people. This is wonderful! The community is reaching out in this heat to come out here and say goodbye to somebody that I think everybody considers a friend,” he says.

An artist drawing of Jerry Mercer, signed by attendees, will have a special place at Fountain City Coffee — one of his favorite places to hang out.

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