Yesterday, I received what has to be the worst news I've ever heard in my entire life. We live in a world where, unfortunately, we hear about some of the most horrible atrocities on a day-to-day basis. But yesterday's news? No one could have prepared me for the floodgate of emotion that was to overcome my heart and mind. A very dear and precious person from my childhood was pronounced dead after a horrific traffic accident while walking on her way to work. Angela Youakim, 25, a bushy-tailed and wide-eyed 25-year-old with a heart of pure solid gold was struck by a vehicle and passed from the impact of the blow. This post is dedicated to her memory.
Although she is a couple of years younger than me, I had the pleasure of meeting Angela through the church. If you grew up in any church, specifically in the Orthodox Youth Group Teen SOYO, you will resonate when I say that we were, and always will be, a family. We spent so many years visiting homeless shelters together, shut-ins, walking in 5Ks for cancer, visiting the monastreies and so much more. That was just the kind of person she was. An eternally selfless young woman with a passion for helping in any way she could. The number of lives she touched is innumerable. It's hard fighting back tears while writing this.
Angela was the backbone of our SOYO. She brought so much light and eagerness into every activity and every event. As her dance instructor, I appreciated her willingness to learn the moves and stay extra when she wanted to perfect her style before getting on stage. No one was like her. Of all my debke kids, she never so much as "akhhhed" when I told them to do another lap for talking too much! She was the first one at practice and the last to leave. Angela was involved in every social event, every humanitarian event, every spiritual event. Nothing made me more proud than to see her volunteering at the church festival years after we left teen SOYO. Her generosity knew no bounds.
Angela was involved in much more than SOYO. She was a proud member of so many clubs on her high school campus. She was so inquisitory- always wanted to learn, and know, and be. She offered advice to all the youth group kids on college applications, financial aid, and shared her knowledge with the world so open and willingly.
She grew up as a student with specific needs and extended the warmth shown to her by becoming a teaching assistant for special needs students at Dieruff High School in Allentown. I feel her career choice speaks for itself. I cannot praise her enough. They say "give your loved ones roses while they are still around to smell them" but she was no stranger to love and gratitude by her peers everywhere she went. Aunt Mounira, her beautiful mother, was at church every Sunday- prepping with the Ladies' Alter Society and volunteering her time to maintain our amazing congregation. Mark, her extremely bright and talented younger brother, is a source of inspiration for everyone that knew him- winning a Freddy Award and bringing one home for Louis E. Dieruff for the first time in history and continued pursuing his passion for acting and music in NYC. This beautiful family did not deserve to lose this loss. She did not deserve to leave the world this way.
It is with a heavy heart that I remind my readers to hug your loved ones tightly and often. The most underrated blessing in this world is to leave the home safely and return safely. During times of tragedy such as this, it forces you question to your faith. It's hard to remember the beauty of the universe when you are facing such darkness. It doesn't make sense. That is ok and expected. It is not for us to understand. (Through the grapevine) Already the city of Allentown is working on the federal level to receive funding for new and improved traffic projects that will elevate the community and promote the safety of all. It is horrific that this had to happen to such a beautiful person in order to receive the attention that was needed for years. The school is in utter dissary. Everyone is grieving this loss. It feels personal. She was a light in this world and we all benefited from her presence here. The only thing that can keep us from banging our heads against a wall in grief and heartbreak is knowing that her passing will spark a light of change in our hometown.
I must remind you to keep your light and spread it as she did. May she inspire all of us to make a positive impact on the community we serve. Thank your teachers, appreciate their service. Love unconditionally and help others for nothing in return. Nothing I can say will ever do her justice. I can share every memory I have and it would never translate the feeling she emoted while in her presence. May her Memory be Eternal. Thank you for being a part of my life. It is an honor to know you. Congratulations on your wings, Miss Angela, fly high forever more.