Family of victim in San Bernardino attacks shares message of giving

Last December I gently pursued an interview with the Velasco family, whose daughter Yvette was murdered in the San Bernardino terror attack. It was hard to believe that international terrorism had struck in the heart of the IE.

Who could savagely kill these innocent people? The faces of these  victims beamed out all over the world.... All of these lives precious. Yvette Velasco of Fontana was among the youngest victims. There was something haunting about Yvette’s smile. The family and I had an acquaintance in common, so I passed along a message. The response was clear. It was too soon.

A few weeks ago I tried again. I’m not sure if it was because of the upcoming election, or the terrible recent incidents of terrorism around the world. The Velascos' agreed to meet with me without cameras present. I could understand they wanted to know what they were getting themselves into before committing to an on camera interview.

After our visit, the family agreed to the interview but not before a couple postponements. The reason was simple. They wanted every family member in the room with me and my cameraman— that meant mom, dad and the three surviving sisters. I respect their powerful sign of solidarity.

When we finally got together, the mood in the house was mostly upbeat. (How could it not be, with a young grandson  running about the place?) There were smiles as well as tears. Each and every family member had something poignant to say, as you’ll see from the two stories I’ll be posting. 

And that’s when I got angry… that such a beautiful person can be taken from us so senselessly. And I was bewildered… that Yvette was murdered by people with whom she was friendly. I became discouraged  because this is certainly not the last family to fall victim to terrorism.

But despite those emotions, a sense of joy at the opportunity to visit with this extraordinary family: Their courage is a beacon. This is a tight, protective and fun loving family. I wish I had known Yvette. I was told she was generally a quiet and private person.

But in an email to me a few days after our interview, sister Erica told me that "Yvette was outspoken about topics she she felt strongly about, such as women’s rights, anti discrimination, anti terrorism, gossip, bullying. stereotyping…” The sisters called their baby sister "their north."  

So it’s not surprising to hear that Yvette had a cause and a charity close to her heart. It’s called Heifer International (www.heifer.org). Heifer’s mission is to end world hunger and poverty through sustainable and eco-friendly means.

The Velasco family made a donation to Heifer in Yvette’s name for her birthday last month. If you feel so inclined, log onto their website.  And please take a few minutes to watch the two stories about this wonderful family and their lost loved one.

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