Grievously, we lost a very spirited and sincere man, Joe Vaughan. Mr. Vaughan was a kind, warm-hearted person who brought caring-ness to others, including me. Who was Joe Vaughan to me and others? Mr. Vaughan was the CEO of CAP Agency, a loving friend, a rock solid mentor, a gracious helper, an achiever, someone who was diligent in laboring, a part of a family, and of course a generous man.

I met Mr. Vaughan six years ago when I was 7 1/2 years old, while I was attending a CAP Agency board meeting. Mr. Vaughan was extremely attentive and appreciative when I had met him. He made me feel as though I was a professional working to make a difference and not a 7-year-old with an idea. Later, I was appointed by the board as the CAP Agency Youth Ambassador. Mr. Vaughan became my mentor. A very amazing, and supportive one. He was always ready to talk to me about any topic and primed to assist with active projects and proposals.

Mr. Vaughan was someone to rely on. He consistently tried to make it to every one of my projects and was always working his hardest during them. I truly believe that Mr. Vaughan made me and others simply better people. I was kind before, he made me kinder. I was compassionate, he showed me how to demonstrate it to others. I was a decent speaker, he made me open up more. I was introverted, he called it poise and grace. I was anxious with one of my speaking events and I shook my hands under the table during my presentation. He called it releasing positive energy by dancing your hands. The list goes on. His leadership was very unique and genuine and his speaking capabilities were extremely articulated and welcoming.

Right when I came home from school, I heard the very sad news. I immediately felt heartbroken. Mr. Vaughan was one of the few people who really, truly believed in my future capabilities. Straightaway, I thought of his family, Karla, Gracie and Danny. I am deeply sorry for your loss, to lose someone so quickly and so suddenly. It’s very hard. I send my condolences and prayers to you.

Joe, I never had the opportunity to tell you how much your mentorship truly meant to me, so I want to take a few seconds to tell you. You were the person always there for me to brighten my projects. You were the person who took the time to understand me and really believed in my capacity to improve life of local, marginalized children and families. You continued to be one of the most whole-hearted people I’ve ever met. You were humbled, kind, and loving. You were a true friend, mentor, and supporter.

As I reflect on my journey with Mr. Vaughan, I believe you made me stronger, you made me confident, and you made me feel like myself. I will keep Joe Vaughan’s mentorship and advice in mind for the rest of my life. Maybe the final advice he gave me, with his passing, is the opportunity to reflect on what Joe has given me, and that is a gift in itself. May Lord abode Mr. Vaughan in heaven and grant him eternal peace. 

Editor's note: Joe Vaughan, longtime CEO of the Scott County Community Action Partnership of Scott and Dakota Counties, died Sept. 22. 

Sanya Pirani is a Prior Lake middle school student and founder of Sanya's Hope, a charity for children. 

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