GREENPOINT — A homeless man died in McGolrick Park earlier this month, sparking a prayer service and discussion of homelessness in the community set for this Sunday, a local pastor said.
Pisarek Franciszek, 41, was found unconscious and unresponsive on the ground at the Russell Street and Driggs Avenue park on Nov. 2 at 6:24 a.m., according to police.
The medical examiner is still investigating the cause of death, but it is not considered suspicious, police said.
People who visited a farmers market at the park the day of his death were "visibly upset" by the news, said Pastor Amy Kienzle, who's hosting the event on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. in the park's pavilion.
Another homeless man died in the park last November, and the community needs to do more to protect its vulnerable, she said.
The gathering will act as a starting point for people to connect and talk about what needs to be done to prevent more homeless deaths, she said.
Though the event is intended to spark a conversation about Franciszek, Kienzle hopes to offer her church as a warming shelter this year as a potential solution, she said.
"Every year someone dies, and we say, 'What can we do to prevent it?'," she said. "But nothing happens. We should do something to raise awareness and acknowledge that someone died."
Kienzle, who works with St. John's and Messiah Lutheran Churches, is encouraging community members — Christian or otherwise — to talk about the "harsh realities" of the issue and to be "confessional" about what's stopping locals from being more supportive.
Homelessness in Greenpoint has been a controversial topic in the past. Officials recently blasted a proposed new homeless shelter on Clay Street, which they said the city "smuggled in by dead of night," and locals previously formed a corporation to fight a shelter on McGuinness Boulevard.
Many have said the area already serves enough homeless people with shelters, but Kienzle said there's a tendency from locals "to judge who's worthy of care, who’s worthy of housing."
They should remember that homelessness is not just about the homeless people, but about the community as a whole, she said.
"A community is judged by how it takes care of those who have the least," Kienzle said. "If we want Greenpoint to be a great place for people to live and to work, this is an issue that should matter to us."