Friends, family mourn Yaniyah Foster

The 19-year-old’s funeral was held at Shiloh Apostolic Temple on Friday.

Friends, family and colleagues of Yaniyah Foster leave the Shiloh Apolistic Temple on Master Street near 15th after her funeral service on Feb. 28. | VALERIE DOWRET / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Yaniyah Foster loved fashion, music, singing, dancing and photography. The 2019 Benjamin Franklin High School alumna had recently been accepted to a police academy in North Carolina, her family said.

Foster was sitting on her stoop on Thompson Street near 11th when she was struck by a bullet on Feb. 19, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

“You always hear about stuff like this,” said Bernard Patton, Foster’s uncle. “But it don’t hit home until it hits your home.”

On Friday, every pew in Shiloh Apostolic Temple on Master Street near 15th was packed with family, friends and work colleagues of Foster’s during a funeral service for the 19-year-old.  

Although Foster was a member of the Piney Grove Baptist Church on 17th Street near Fishers Lane, the church only holds 300 people and the family needed much more space for attendees, said Ayanna Grabe, her mother.

Foster, or “NaNa” as her friends and family affectionately called her, was described by her family as loving, gentle, giving and outgoing. 

Grabe said that Foster did not approve of the violence in her community and would say to her mother, “stop the violence and keep the peace.” 

“I’m proud of everything Yaniyah has done and who she has become,” said Jovonne Stanton, a cousin who knew Foster since they were children. “I’m going to miss her bubbly, infectious smile, her work ethic.”    

“You couldn’t help but to love her even if you only met her one time, you would fall in love instantly,” Patton said.

Rev. Robert Paul, the pastor at Piney Grove Baptist Church,  said Foster could have been a president of the United States and was a peacemaker among her community.

“That’s the mind this woman had,” Paul said. “When she walked into the room, she lit up the room.”

Paul emphasized in his eulogy that the neighborhood community needs to stop violence among young people. 

The Feb. 19 shooting injured three other men, one of whom was a bystander who was shot in the head while sitting in his car,  the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Two days later, Joel Saint-Fort, 16, and Charles Davis, 25, were charged with murder for their alleged roles in the shooting.

“We have the power to stop this, we are eradicating ourselves,” Paul said.

Patton said that he hopes Foster’s passing will “awaken” parents to love their children and encourage young people to stay away from violence.

Patton said that young people should not have to worry about shootings. They should be thinking about simple things like what they will wear to prom, he added.

Foster had been training to become a server at Kanella Grill on Spruce Street near 10th. Three former customers of Foster’s were so moved by her death that they donated money to a GoFundMe page honoring Foster which raised funds for her church, Paul said.

“They were so impressed with her, her mannerism, how professional she was,” Paul said.

Caroline Christian, Foster’s supervisor and co-owner of the Kanella Grill, said Foster was a strong and positive young woman.

“Yaniyah was a really bright spark who took everything as a growing lesson and touched everyone around her,”  Christian said.

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