It has been a year since 22-year-old Jason Smith was fatally shot in Pembroke — but his friends say they miss him just as much as ever.
A group of them will hold a memorial for the Saltus graduate and Regiment lance corporal at his graveside at St John’s Cemetery at 6pm today.
“We don’t want him to be forgotten,” Kryshae Furbert, 23, told The Royal Gazette. “It’s very difficult for everyone, especially because some people are still away in school. We are not all able to be together.
“We wanted to do something personal, where we can come together as friends and family for Jason. We don’t want to do anything big.”
Jasmin Caines, also 23, said: “It just doesn’t feel like a whole year has passed. Everyone still kind of feels the same, still in a state of shock that he’s not with us.”
The young women, along with other Saltus graduates, formed an organisation in his memory after Mr Smith was gunned down for no apparent reason outside a friend’s house on Overview Hill in the early hours of May 1, 2011.
The Live Free Foundation aims to “honour his memory, celebrate his life and ensure his legacy lives on”.
Several members of the group are applying to become Big Brothers and Big Sisters to help contribute to the community.
And yesterday Ms Furbert and Ms Caines handed over a $505 donation from the foundation to the mentoring programme.
“We just wanted to do something positive and be positive role models,” said Ms Caines. “We are all pretty good mentors and we feel like we can promote community involvement.”
Ms Furbert said: “We want to keep his memory alive, as well. We really miss him but we want to make sure that our energy goes into contributing to rebuilding Bermuda’s community.
“We are falling apart with the level of violence. It’s not even the shootings but right down to the robberies and all that other stuff. It’s a whole different type of escalation of violence.”
Ms Caines added: “It’s just gotten out of control. When we were growing up, there wasn’t any of it. One of the reasons we want to join Big Brothers Big Sisters is because the children coming up are the future generation of Bermuda.”
The Live Free Foundation has already launched an annual award and partial scholarship for Saltus students and held fundraisers at Docksiders and Moon nightclub.
This year’s scholarship will be given out on June 7 at the Saltus graduation ceremony at the Cathedral, when Live Free members Daniel Woods and Kijaun Wilkinson will speak.
The foundation will also hold a fundraising seven-a-side tournament on the Saltus field on June 30 and July 7. There will also be a family fun day on July 7, from noon to 5.30pm.
The murder of Mr Smith remains unsolved. Police told this newspaper in November they were baffled by the case as Mr Smith was a “normal, decent” young man with no gang links.
Today’s ceremony is for family and loved ones and will feature singing by Jesse Seymour and a prayer from Ralph Trott.
l To contact the Live Free Foundation e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.