INDIANAPOLIS — It’s not every day that a funeral service takes place at the Indiana Statehouse, especially for someone who was experiencing homelessness.
Maurice Young, the man whose funeral was at the statehouse Sunday, was known as a gentle giant, a good listener and a person with a passion for helping those in need.
“The work that needs to be done in our community can’t be done in an office behind closed doors on a phone or a computer,” Annie Smith a speaker at Young's funeral, said. “You have to get out into the community you have to be amongst the people.”
Being amongst the people was Young’s mission in life. He lived amongst people experiencing homelessness by choice.
A choice his family didn’t even know about until after he made the decision.
“He didn’t notify us, he just did it,” Kimberly Stoveall, Young's sister, said. “Letting go of everything especially having to distance and let go of material things in life, it would have been hard to explain to your family and siblings. So, he did it genuinely and just did it cold turkey. Then as time passed, we all came together to better understand the mission here.”
Young used his experience living on the streets as a way to educate people about what homelessness looks like and what people living that way need. He would host food drives, workshops and speak to people about policy changes that could better the lives of the people he held close to his heart.
“He would listen, and he would compile what he listened to and then formulate a plan of actions,” John Schmitz, a friend of Young’s, said. “I hope people remember him as somebody who really cared about the issues in our society and about everybody.”
With his funeral being held at the statehouse, his family hopes his legacy and advocacy will resonate with people to make sure experiencing homelessness is something Hoosiers across the state can understand.
“Making sure that homelessness isn’t criminalized but actually taking the initiative to understand not just thinking because you see people on the street panhandling and not taking one bad apple and thinking it’s the whole community,” Stoveall said.
After Young's funeral, free meals were offered to those experiencing homelessness. His family and friends said the best way to honor his legacy is to volunteer with local homeless advocacy groups in Indianapolis. According to his sister, he died of COVID-19.