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Proceeds from T-shirt will assist shooting victim's family
By Betsy Anderson
Special to SanJuanJournal.com
Jermaine Reaves always wanted to be a superhero, according to his friend of three years, Aaron D'Errico.
In tribute, D'Errico created a superhero picture of his friend, the final piece in a series of pictures carefully handcrafted to capture Reaves' personality, especially his smile.
"On Sept. 6, we were hanging out at the Pearl and I drew a picture of him," D'Errico said. "I told him that I was going to keep the original because it was my only visual reference and I decided I was going to do a series of drawings to get good at drawing him. I was going to give the original back to him."
Reaves, who died Sept. 28, did not get to see the animation-style drawing of him, but his friends will. They also have the opportunity to wear the picture of Reaves on a T-shirt in remembrance of him.
T-shirt orders must be pre-paid. All proceeds will benefit Reaves' family.
Reaves, 21, was found in his apartment with a gunshot wound to his chest. His brother, Jawaad, has been charged with his shooting death; he pleaded innocent and is out on bail. Trial is scheduled to begin Feb. 9.
The tragedy prompted Jermaine's friends and family to reach out and help in some way. This art piece is one of those ways.
"I drew (the picture) in a style that I knew (Jermaine) would appreciate," D'Errico said. "I drew one that was even more reflective of him with a big smile. Jermaine liked Bugs Bunny and he wanted me to draw him as a superhero and I created a superhero in his honor."
Sandra Marshall, Jermaine and Jawaad's mother, said her family — four children and her fiance — have been blessed by the community since the shooting but are struggling daily to make ends meet. Jermaine, who worked at China Pearl and Bella Luna, and Jawaad, who works for Miller Drywall, have helped to support the family financially.
Marshall is at home with her two youngest children, Da-Omunique (Dae' Dae') 6, and Jemiesha, 16. She said she is getting SSI and some public assistance, and her fiance, Mervin, is in the process of obtaining a job as a substitute bus driver for the San Juan Island School District.
Jawaad said he wants to make sure his mom and younger siblings have a place to live for the winter and that their needs will be met. His family was asked to leave their apartment by Nov. 9 and still have not found a new home.
"Right now, my mom's going through a hard time," Jawaad said. "(The apartment neighbors) don't feel comfortable with me being around, so she has to move. My family's needs are food, clothes and housing now.
"I want to know that my mom is on her feet," he said. "I want to know that she is taken care of regardless. My family not surviving scares me. It's not about me, it's about my mom and my little sister, little brother and baby brother. I just want to make sure my family's OK and that they are together."
Jawaad has been working to pay people back for his bail, Marshall said, and has been doing the best he can to help the family.
Marshall said she is scheduled to begin school at Skagit Valley College in January and hopes to be a medical transcriptionist or a licensed practical nurse by next summer.
"We're trying to get things together, but it's a slow, slow process," she said. "Our biggest need now is to find a warm place to live."
Emily Wilkins knew Jermaine for close to two years and was with him the night he died.
"All the funds (raised by T-shirt sales) are going to his family, so support them," Wilkins said. "(Jermaine) was amazing and he was so concerned about other people. He wanted them to be happy, was a big-hearted guy and always had a smile on his face."
The T-shirt picture of Jermaine includes a diamond, lyrics to a rap song and the title "Supamaine." Lyrics to the song include the words, "Our loss is heaven's gain, RIP, our friend Jermaine."
D'Errico said the lyrics were from the music that the two boys were going to play together.
"I was honoring things (Jermaine) loved on the T-Shirt," he said. "To me, the diamond is a metaphor for his personality. He was a bright diamond."
A bank account at Islanders Bank has been set up to support the Reaves' immediate family. It's called the "Dae' Dae' Fund."
Marshall and her fiance said they feel so much appreciation toward the San Juan Island community. The Food Bank, the San Juan Island Family Resource Center, victims' advocate agencies and the Presbyterian Church have all helped direct their steps and support their daily needs.
"If it weren't for the community, things would be worse," she said. "Even though it's been a struggle, we're blessed."
When asked what her immediate goals were for her and her family, she said, "In addition to finding a warm place to stay, I would love Dae' Dae' to have a beautiful Christmas in honor of Jermaine. He's 6 and he's remembering."
To order T-shirts, call Tyler Dixon at 298-2009 or Betsy Anderson at 370-5518. To donate to the "Dae' Dae' Fund," visit Islanders Bank, 225 Blair Ave., Friday Harbor. Call 378-2265.