Celebrating Boston’s Unsung Heroes

On Thursday, February 25th, nearly 100 community members came together at the West End House to honor the memory of Dawnn Jaffier and recognize the efforts of individuals who embody Dawnn’s unwavering commitment to serving those in need. Now in its second year, the Light of Dawnn Awards includes grants and recognition of three outstanding nonprofit professionals and three high school seniors.

“The Light of Dawnn Awards and Scholarships represent the extraordinary commitment and love that Dawnn Jaffier had for our city,” said State Representative Kevin Honan, who spoke at the event. “These awards are a powerful way to honor the unsung heroes and the work they do every day.”

Dawnn, a West End House alumna, had begun a promising career in Boston’s nonprofit community before she became an innocent victim of gun violence. Created in partnership with Dawnn’s family, friends, and peers, with strong support from Mayor Walsh and Governor Baker, the Light of Dawnn Awards honor her legacy. The awards are managed by the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network in partnership with the Highland Street Foundation.

David Shapiro, Chairman of the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network, and Blake Jordan, President of the Highland Street Foundation, presented The 2nd Annual Light of Dawnn Awards to three nonprofit professionals who work on the front lines at some of Boston’s most vital nonprofits: Latiana Appleberry of My Life My Choice; Kendall Bruce of Boston Medical Center’s Violence Intervention Advocacy Program; and Tim Bulla of St. Francis House each received $5,000 awards in addition to the public recognition.

This year’s ceremony expanded to include the presentation of the new Light of Dawnn College Scholarship to three outstanding high school seniors. The award was created by John Hancock, where Dawnn’s mother Althea is a longtime employee, in partnership with The Foundation To Be Named Later, to recognize local students who are making a positive impact in the community. Tom Crohan, AVP & Counsel, Corporate Responsibility & Government Relations of John Hancock, and Paul Epstein, President of Foundation To Be Named Later, presented the $5,000 college scholarships to Rachel Kalombo of Beacon Academy, Shaina Omoroghomwan of Beacon Academy, and Kerimal Suriel Guerrero of Steps to Success. Five additional students received $1,000 runner-up scholarships – including two West End House members — Shelby and Ade.

The event also featured another speaker who was connected with West End House. Jasmine Clark, a West End House alumna who now works as a Constituent Services Aide for Governor Baker, told the audience, “When I think about Dawnn, one word comes to mind: extraordinary. These awards ensure that her earthly absence will not diminish her legacy. Dawnn lives on in all of us.”

The event was also covered by The Boston Globe.

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