Candlelight ceremony held to mourn recent deaths of homeless men
BULLHEAD CITY — Four picture frames sat on a picnic table. Only two had photographs inside — the other two held only names.
The picture frames on display were part of a candlelight ceremony Monday evening at Community Park to commemorate four local homeless men who died recently: Thomas Mason, James Carr, Clinton Jackson and a man known only as Butch.
Of the 60 people in attendance, some knew the departed because they, too, are homeless. Others became familiar with the four men through volunteer work helping local homeless people get by each day.
After the candles were passed out, Deacon John DelQuadro of St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church explained that the candles were meant to symbolize “the light of Christ.”
DelQuadro spoke of the men and said he “had never known anyone with a more gentle soul than Tommy.”
Close relatives of Mason, who died July 23, spoke about him.
“I wasn’t ready for him to die,” said his daughter, Heather Mason. “I wish I could have gotten him off the streets.”
As she started to cry, her uncle Dale Mason, Thomas Mason’s brother, walked over and held her.
“Nobody should die because they are poor,” said one woman. “Not in this country.”
Those who knew Mason said they believe the heat that week contributed to his death. People who work with local homeless said they believe there were three deaths of people living on the streets during the heat wave near the end of July.
It was 115 degrees when Monday’s ceremony began at 7 p.m.
CJ Kelly, of the Guardian Foundation, had known Jackson, who died in May, for about 10 years. He longed to see Jackson find his way off the streets, he said.
People of faith believe “there is something beyond our pain in the moment,” Kelly said.
And those who work with homeless people keep at it
because they’re “trying to make a difference, to do something,” he continued.
Kelly sees himself and others as “hope dealers” for the homeless men and women they try to assist, he said.
“Don’t lose hope,” Kelly said. “That’s the important thing.”
While there are plans for construction of a homeless shelter in Bullhead City and there have been improvements in how the community assists this segment of the population, short-term needs persist.
Catholic Charities continues to look for volunteers and is struggling to ensure local homeless people have enough water. There is a dire need for donations of bottled water, said Patty Jacques with Catholic Charities.
Homeless people who normally spend their days in Community Park and Rotary Park will be displaced during the Laughlin River Regatta on Saturday. But there will be some rooms open at the Suddenlink Center for people who have nowhere to go, said Robert Brandefine of the Guardian Foundation.