Friends and family of Yashanee Vaughn gathered Saturday July 30 at City Bible Church on Rocky Butte. Hundreds came to celebrate the teen's short life and to lay her remains to rest, packing the church with supporters. Her mother, Shaquita Louis had requested that instead of black, mourners should wear bright colors. The family wore bright red along with black and white to honor her love of color. The Skanner News Video: Slideshow of CelebrationThe Skanner News Video: Slideshow of Celebration
Pastor J.W. Friday of Bright Star Ministries hosted the service in City Bible church. His upbeat presentation fitted the personality of a girl, described by family and friends as loving, expressive, outgoing and strong-willed.
"I have seen God move on behalf of this family in such a great way," Pastor Friday said. "It is in the midst of the pain that God works it all out."
Friday praised the family for their tenacity, hard work and compassion. Read about Yashanne's disappearance and the search for her body here. And he said that the loss of Yashanee had affected people across the city, propelling them to help other teens. To Yashanee's mother he said, "God didn't bring you this far to leave you now."
Community members, friends and family spoke at the three-hour celebration. Elishua Goldsby, just one of many dancers, singers and poets who paid tribute to the teen, sang "You were always on my mind."
Elizabeth Jensen, principal of Open Meadow school, where Yashanee spent her 7th Grade year, said Yashanee had a powerful spirit.
"She burst into our building with that enormous smile and her joy and presence – and she rattled our staff," she said. "She is one of the strongest young people I have ever worked with…
"Nothing got in her way."
Jensen noted that the family had been right behind her, coming to the school daily to offer support.
Kevina read a poem calling Yashanee her Secret Angel.
"I can feel your presence around me," she read. "I'll forever hold you close to my heart."
Ionka Martin introduced the Yashanee Vaughn Committee, a diverse group of women who had come together to support the family through their loss.
"I want to ask our community not to judge people who don't live like you, who don't act like you," she said to applause.
A friend of Yashanee's brother Damajio spoke for him, apologizing for his absence.
Elder Elmer Yarborough drew the celebration to a conclusion by focusing on the young people. He acknowledge that he made serious mistakes in his own early years. And he urged teens to make good choices. He urged young women to avoid giving up their self-respect for their boyfriends. And he urged the young men to learn how to deal with their anger and not take it out on their girlfriends.
"I can't beat you with the same hand I'm supposed to hug you and love you with," he said. Yarborough urged all teens to pursue education, get jobs and build careers.
After the ceremony, hundreds of people walked across the playing field to see the release of 14 doves – one for every year of Yashanee's life.