Community honors Selah woman with donations to YWCA, scholarship in her name
In the days since Emily Harris Escamilla’s life was taken, those who knew her and loved her have come together to make sure that she will never be forgotten.
Authorities say Emily died by strangulation early Friday morning. Officers searched two counties for the suspect — her husband, Daniel Escamilla — who was later found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Since word spread of Emily’s death, countless social media posts have described Emily as a kind, loving woman who brought joy to everyone around her, words echoed in her obituary.
While it’s difficult to sum up a person’s life and legacy in 564 words, Emily’s obituary speaks volumes about her character: If you knew Emily, you knew about her vibrant smile that could light up any room. Her bright and welcoming demeanor could make anyone feel as though they belong.
Emily dedicated the last decade of her life to her two children, 9-year-old Dominic Escamilla and 6-year-old Olivia Escamilla, around whom she created a village to surround her children with love and support, her obituary said.
In her obituary, Emily’s family asked people to give money to the YWCA of Yakima in lieu of sending flowers.
Emily made a difference for people in the way she knew how, by caring for them. She was always willing to have a deep conversation, to be vulnerable, and tell you like it is.
The money will go toward helping the thousands of domestic violence victims served by the organization every year.
Emily believed in her convictions, and she wasn’t afraid to live by them. Emily had a big heart, and the love she had for others was palpable.
YWCA of Yakima Executive Director Cheri Kilty said the organization was surprised that the Harris family thought of asking people to donate to them.
“We’re just very grateful that the family even thinks of us at this time because we know it’s really hard,” Kilty said.
Kilty said donations have already come in, with people noting they’re in honor of Emily.
DONATING TO THE YWCA OF YAKIMA
Emily’s family has asked that, “in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions are suggested to the YWCA – Domestic Violence, and sent in care of Brookside Funeral Home (PO Box 1267, Moxee, WA 98936) who is caring for the family.”
— Financial contributions can also be made online, by check or in person at the YWCA of Yakima.
— Donations of clothes, shoes, cleaning supplies, diapers, food, trash bags, toys, books, furniture and other household items can be dropped off at the YWCA of Yakima building. Call 509-248-7796 for more information.
— Volunteer opportunities are available for those interested in donating their time.
— Follow the YWCA of Yakima on Facebook, where the organization posts weekly donation needs. This week: flashlights and batteries.
For the past year, the YWCA of Yakima has been highlighting women making a difference in the community as part of their 52 Women, 52 Weeks campaign.
“This week, we did choose Emily,” Kilty said. “We know she was an important person in our community and we just needed to do that.”
Emily was an instructor at Perry Technical Institute, which has since set up a scholarship in her name: the Emily Harris Escamilla BTA Scholarship.
“We wanted to establish this scholarship not only to memorialize Emily, but we wanted her to always be present here,” said Christine Cote, President of Perry Technical Institute. “She was a talented instructor and it was her calling; she just did a beautiful job with it.”
Cote has been with the school for 23 years and says this is the first time they’ve created a scholarship in this way.
“Emily was a bright and shining star who made a lasting impact on each student, faculty and staff member that she worked with,” the school said in a statement Sunday.
Emily started as an instructor for the Business, Technology and Accounting program in August, after being interviewed by Cote and others.
“I had an opportunity to get to know her more while she was here but I had watched her and known her for many years,” Cote said.
The scholarship will allow students to attend the BTA program, all because of the impact Emily had on the school, Cote said.
DONATING TO THE EMILY HARRIS ESCAMILLA BTA SCHOLARSHIP
— Text ForEmily to 44321 (No spaces in ForEmily)
— Donate online here
— Mail a check to Perry Technical Foundation, 2011 W. Washington Ave., Yakima, WA 98903 (Please note “Emily”)
For more information about the scholarship, email the Perry Technical Foundation at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 509-453-0374.
“We also wanted the family to know that she would not be forgotten, that she would stay with us,” Cote said.
To know Emily, was to be loved by Emily. She will be dearly missed by all.
Visitation will be held from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 31 at Shaw & Sons Funeral Home, 201 N. Second St. in Yakima.
The Celebration of Life will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 1 at Stone Church, 3303 Englewood Ave. in Yakima. A reception will be held afterward at the Selah Civic Center.
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