Kierra’s death continues to impact community

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It’s been more than two years since 18-year-old ShaVaughn Kierra Wallace was killed in the North Side during her summer break from college at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Yet, the wounds from her single gun-shot wound to the chest continue to ripple throughout the community.

On June 25, the Kierra Keeps Caring Foundation held their 2nd Annual Walk 4 Life, an event to commemorate Wallace’s life and raise money for the scholarship fund in her memory.

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FAMILY—From left: Larry Wallace, grandfather; Virginia Wallace, grandmother; Carla Gaines-Robinson; and Vaughn Wallace, father. (Photo by J.L. Martello)

“The foundation is in honor of my daughter. This foundation is based on her. My point in building the foundation is to keep her name alive,” said Wallace’s mother Carla Gaines-Robinson. “It gives me a little closure and it also gives me the chance to get out to parents and children how important life is.”

The mission of the foundation is to reach out to parents and children to promote a positive quality of life and to eliminate the prevalence of violent acts against youth. Through the foundation, Gaines-Robinson works to educate youth about the essential skills needed to build character, develop communication skills, as well as motivates them to acquire a strong value system.

Wallace, a Schenley high school graduate, was pregnant when she was shot while sitting in a vehicle on Alpine Street on May 22, 2009. Lamon Street was charged with the murder after Wallace’s boyfriend, who was present at the time of the shooting, testified that he saw Street shooting at them.

“One shot killed her. I’m proactive about keeping guns out of the wrong hands,” Gaines-Robinson said. “I am going to be an active part in the lives of our youth. Education is high on my list. There’s a lot of parents who aren’t doing their jobs. The man who is in jail for shooting my daughter, his parents weren’t doing a good job. I also want to educate them on the rules of dating.”

This year marked the beginning of the foundation’s annual essay contest that awarded two local high school seniors with scholarships of $1000 and $500. This year’s topic was “My Ideal Plan to Eliminate Gang Violence.”

“I have two younger kids and I can’t have this happening again, I can’t have another parent going through it. When you hit (shoot) one person, you hurt a million others,” Gaines-Robinson said. “This is not the way life should be. I’m just trying to do my part in this life. In life you have to help one another. We have become so selfish and so greedy.”

Between 250 and 300 people attended this year’s event at the Schenley Park Trails. The picnic following the walk was sponsored in part by Lekurion Salon.

“I see that it’s getting better. I’m getting through to a small network, but I see from last year, it’s grown,” she said. “It takes time for people to really get the picture. I am getting through to a small group, but it’s nowhere near where I want to reach.”

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