Nonprofit, community, and business leaders, along with the Jaffier Family, came together at the West End House Boys and Girls Club for the third annual Light of Dawnn Awards Ceremony to honor the life of Dawnn Jaffier. During the ceremony, three nonprofit workers and three high school seniors were recognized for their outstanding work and commitment to serving their communities. Also in attendance were elected officials including State Representative Kevin Honan and City Councilor Mark Ciommo.
“There is no better way to honor the life of Dawnn Jaffier than to celebrate those who have continued to carry on her legacy through acts of goodwill and service to our local communities,” said Mayor Walsh. “I congratulate Juan, Dawnmarie and Tha for being the recipients of this year’s Light of Dawnn Award, a distinguished recognition honoring those who have gone above and beyond to lend a helping hand to others, and who continue to make the City of Boston proud.”
The Light of Dawnn Awards were created three years ago to honor the memory of Dawnn Jaffier, who in 2014 was tragically killed at just 26 years old. While just a young woman, Dawnn had already made a significant impact in her community through her work with the West End House Boys and Girls Club, Playworks, City Year, and Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston. Upon Dawnn’s untimely passing, her family, friends, and colleagues came together to create the Light of Dawnn Awards so that her legacy may continue to inspire. Each year, three individuals who represent Dawnn’s spirit are selected to receive a Light of Dawnn Award and a $5,000 prize. The Awards are presented by the Highland Street Foundation and managed by the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network.
This year’s recipients are Dawnmarie Salmons, Music Clubhouse Director of Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston: Edgerley Family South Boston Club; Juan Manuel Cantú, Jr., College Success Coordinator at Hyde Square Task Force; and Tha Thai, Boston Team Crisis Coordinator at Roca, Inc.
“Juan, Dawnmarie, and Tha quietly go about their work every day, not in pursuit of recognition, but purely driven by a desire to make a difference in someone’s life,” said Blake Jordan, Executive Director of the Highland Street Foundation. “It is an honor to shine a light on them and a privilege to do so in the name of Dawnn Jaffier.”
“We are honored to be here today with Dawnn’s friends and family, community partners, and Mayor Walsh to remember Dawnn and further her positive spirit and legacy by honoring this year’s outstanding Light of Dawnn Awards recipients,” said David Shapiro, Chairman of the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network’s Board. “The heart, talent and dedication that Dawnmarie, Juan, and Tha bring to their work day in and day out reminds us of Dawnn’s unique ability to build relationships, community, and to simply be there for so many all in the name of strengthening support, opportunity, and connection.”
Also during the ceremony, three high school seniors were awarded the Light of Dawnn Scholarships for their community work. Now in their second year, these scholarships were created by John Hancock, where Dawnn’s mother is a longtime employee, in partnership with The Foundation To Be Named Later. The scholarships award $5,000 to each student to go towards pursuing a college education.
This year’s scholarship recipients are Justina Riopelle, Sominisha Wright, and Noor Al-saad.
“We thank the Jaffier family, and our community partners, for giving us the opportunity to help honor Dawnn’s extraordinary life and legacy,” said Tom Crohan, AVP & Counsel, Corporate Responsibility and Government Relations at John Hancock. “We honor her best by drawing strength from her inspiring example, and we are proud to recognize Justina, Sominisha and Noor for their commitment to serving others and giving back to their communities.”