A'Tiya Maddox was always a giver.

It was written in her name, which means "a gift."

And while she is no longer here to give her parents hugs, to share her smile people talk about so often or to reach out and give others hope when they are down, her parents gifted something to a graduating senior Saturday night that will allow her legacy to endure.

Tiffany and John Maddox, A'Tiya's parents, on behalf of the A'Tiya T. Maddox Foundation, gave Brooke Jones, who is graduating from Eastern Wayne High School, $1,000 to go toward her college education.

A'Tiya also graduated from Eastern Wayne High School.

She was the victim of what remains an unsolved murder on July 22, 2016.

The banquet, which was held in the Dillard-Goldsboro Alumni Cultural Center at 800 Poplar St. -- one block from where police believe A'Tiya was fatally shot and killed -- saw various forms of entertainment throughout the night before culminating in a speech delivered by Trayvon Martin's father, Tracy Martin.

Trayvon's killing -- and the circumstances surrounding it -- gripped the nation in 2012.

Tracy and A'Tiya's parents share the tragic bond of having their child's blood shed at the hands of another.

This common thread shared with A'Tiya's parents brought Tracy to Goldsboro Saturday night, allowing him to share his story with a community that has seen 44 homicides in the past five years -- 19 of which remain unsolved.

Families of those slain in the city throughout the years attended the banquet to support the Maddox family and hear Tracy's story.

"We are here for a particular reason -- we are here to commemorate, to memorialize, to remember a young lady who was taken wrongfully from her family, from her peers, from her friends," Tracy said. "But at the same time, we know that it's in God's hands."

Tracy said he and A'Tiya's parents both share in the endeavor to continue the legacy their children left behind when they were killed.

"The thing about death or grief, is it not only tells you who you are -- it builds who you are," Tracy said. "It tests you. And during those tests, you come to find out that you're stronger than you thought you were."

Tracy also spoke to knowing what it can be like to grow up in a rough city -- he is from East St. Louis, Illinois.

He said he sees in Goldsboro much of what he experienced in the harsh streets of his own hometown -- violence in the streets and people being victimized by their environment.

But, he said, it doesn't have to be that way.

"I know what it feels like to be part of an environment that you can succumb to," Tracy said. "All of the things that are going on here in Goldsboro, across this country -- don't think you have to be a product of that particular environment. Remove yourself from that environment. Even if you stay there, you can remove yourself from that environment. Gangs didn't just start. We've been having gang problems for the past 100 years. But what has happened is we think it's cool to be in a gang. We don't understand what gangs represent. But what you fail to realize is there's always something detrimental that comes out of that."

Tracy said gangs -- of which Goldsboro and Wayne County has plenty -- create environments where young men are committing acts of violence and young women are degrading themselves to be part of the gang.

He urged the crowd to stand with the A'Tiya T. Maddox Foundation as being part of a solution to the ongoing problems in Goldsboro. Tracy said individuals must stand up together and fight against what ails the community.

"There is a problem, and everybody talks about this generation is lost. I beg to differ," Tracy said. "This generation isn't lost, we're (older role models) missing from this generation. Because somebody taught you how to be a man. So who do we have teaching our young brothers and sisters how to be men and women? Nobody."

Throughout his speech to the audience, Tracy spoke to his own experience with his son's murder, his activism since then and how people can get out and become active in correcting problems in their own communities.

Tracy capped off his speech by telling the Maddox family he was pledging $1,000 to the A'Tiya Maddox Foundation to allow them to continue the work they are doing.

Saturday night's banquet was the first annual scholarship gifting event, and is expected to happen again each year.

"The legacy of our children that have been taken away from us should be the memories that we cherish and hold in our heart," Tracy said. "They may have taken your baby away from you, but they can't take the memories that you have of your baby from you."