Victims of crime found care and compassion at a special ceremony in Gulfport Thursday.
This is National Crime Victims Rights Week. The annual observance brought together representatives from law enforcement, social service agencies and the district attorney's office.
The theme this year is "Fulfill the Promise: Putting Crime Victims First". Various advocates who deal with victims of crime say they deserve protection, information and compassion.
The service emphasized that message and recognized those who are helping fulfill that promise.
Theodore Williams says faith has helped carry him. His college age son was killed.
"We lost our son three years ago. And every time I play this song, it's Amazing Grace, what God can do for you in times like these, and He's able to lift us up," said Williams, before playing the hymn on the flute.
Crime links the ceremony congregation. Some were police officers, others judges or social workers.
A single candle lit the faces of three victims: a Harrison County cheerleader beaten to death, a store clerk killed in Gulfport, and a four year old Jackson County girl, Shelby Lynn Tucker, whose mother attended the ceremony.
"Because you need that support, being the victim of a violent crime. You need somebody there along with your family. Somebody that's there to talk to. And that will listen,' said Miranda Tames.
Supervisor, William Martin, read an official proclamation honoring crime victims and recognizing the need for helping them.
"That we continue to fulfill the promise of justice and compassion for crime victims as individuals, as communities, and as a nation dedicated to justice for all," he read.
The ceremony recognized a new group that's committed to child protection.
PACT lobbied state lawmakers for money to hire more DHS social workers this year.
"Our journey has just begun and we will not stop until we see that every child in our community is protected and receives the help that they need," said the group's spokesperson.
The lighting of candles represented hope and community commitment.
Jennifer Garraway is the victim services coordinator for the Harrison County district attorney. She says victims of crime need our support.
"Because we all know people that are victims. They're not by themselves on that. We all have either been victims or we have family members that have been victimized," she said.
Those gathered recognize that the crime itself is often only the beginning. Families need care long afterward.
Miranda Tames says her daughter's murder has left a scar that will always be present.
"A lot of people feel uncomfortable when you talk about what happened. A lot of people feel uncomfortable. So it's nice to know that somebody's there that will just sit and listen," she said.