Santa Fe Living Treasures â€“ Elder Stories
Honored April 2014
Driven by a profound sense of fairness and justice, Erik Mason has no bias or limitations while pursuing his lifeâ€™s mission of helping, supporting, and advocating for those in need. With generous spirit, and a humble heart, Erik works tirelessly, under the radar, to help the hungry, the homeless, the refugees, and those living below the poverty line.
Erik was a member of the Mayorâ€™s Blue Ribbon Task Force to end homelessness in Santa Fe. He worked on getting St. Elizabethâ€™s Shelter built and staffed. He was a founding member of the recently established Interfaith Community Shelter which now has a volunteer team approaching 2,000 people. A champion for immigration rights, he has served on the city immigrant task force, and been active in his Westminster Presbyterian Church, helping to financially support the family of a human rights worker from Mexico. He has marched with immigrants, demanding justice and fairness and advocating for fair wages. Erik is a leader in the Los Amigos del Parque binational breakfast and advocacy program which provides food and assistance for the immigrants seen downtown looking for work. Concerned about the US-Mexico border policy, he spent a week camping out in the over 100 degree heat of a Tucson summer providing water and basic medical care to those crossing the dessert.
Erikâ€™s humanitarian outreach has been international as well as local. He trained and participated in the National Presbyterian Peace Fellowship Columbia Accompaniment program. In that role he shadowed human rights and religious leaders in Columbia whoâ€™s lives were threatened or at risk, with the intent that with a U.S. presence their lives would be safer. Erik went to Columbia twice. He has visited Mexican coffee farmers supporting their co-op allowing them to remain on their land rather than risk the dangerous journey northward.
Erik had a distinguished military career for 20 years. While a pilot in Vietnam he took an emergency leave to come home and be a kidney donor for his older brother, saving his life. While serving in Bolivia, he single handedly saved the lives of people in a van wreck. For this he was awarded â€śThe Soldierâ€™s Medal,â€ť the Armyâ€™s highest award for bravery not involving combat.
Erikâ€™s dedication to family brought him back to Santa Fe in 1983 when he put aside his plans for an equestrian training center to care for members of his family who were elderly and ill. He also served as a surrogate parent to a niece and a nephew during their formative years. His niece wrote, â€ťHe brought laughter and fun into my life, cultivated my interest in our family history, ensured my cultural identity with Santa Fe, introduced a passion for literature and the arts, and instilled in me a desire to impact our global community at large...at a time when I had fear and sadness in my life, he planted a sense of magic and hope that life is a also full of light and beautyâ€ť
Erik is a history buff. He has been very involved in the Fairview Cemetery Preservation Association helping with the maintenance and preservation of this historically significant non denominational cemetery.
Erik has researched many fascinating stories of the people buried there; early prominent Santa Fe citizens, famous people such as territorial governors, state governors and mayors, plus two rumored ghosts. There are 1500 or so people buried in unmarked graves.
The Rev. James Brown, pastor of the Presbyterian Church wrote, â€ścompassion is to suffer with those in need. Erik Mason has exemplified this special gift throughout his life and right up to the present day as he continues his volunteer work. Eric serves as a powerful reminder of the need for compassion in our daily life if our society is to remain civil and good.â€ť
Story by Nancy Dahl
Photo Â© 2014 by Genevieve Russell