HOUSTON -

A local church is using a tragedy to bring attention to an often-neglected group in our society.

Last Tuesday, a custodian at Spring Woods United Methodist Church noticed a homeless woman lying on a pallet near a sanctuary door. The woman appeared to be sleeping, so the custodian placed another blanket on top of her and set out food.

Hours later, when the woman had not moved and the food remained untouched; the custodian realized she had died.

“He came and he got me. We put the sign of the cross on her forehead and we prayed over her and we realized we needed to figure out who she was and who she belonged to,” said Rev. Heather Sims.

Sims said she looked through the woman's belongings and determined the woman's name was Sherry Ivy. She was carrying a birthday card that showed she had just turned 50.

“This is someone who didn't die lonely. She died being loved by many and had many friends... She was a life that we need to celebrate,” said Sims.

After contacting Ivy's friends, Sims decided to organize a memorial service. The church has invited her friends and plan to distribute blankets, food, and other items to the homeless at Wednesday's service.

“I think we've seen Jesus this week. We see how he's come and tried to open our eyes to the needs around us,” said Sims.
The Harris County Medical Examiner has not yet determined an exact cause of death.

The memorial service is scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday. The church is located at 1711 FM 1960.