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May 18, 2022
Three Boston Nonprofit Workers Receive Light of Dawnn Awards

February 28, 2022 — Three people working at Boston nonprofits today received Light of Dawnn awards, which carry a $5,000 cash prize, presented annually to recognize Massachusetts nonprofit workers doing direct-service work, particularly those who do not have prominent roles.

The awards were named for Dawnn Jaffier, who was shot to death in 2014 at age 26 while on her way to a neighborhood celebration. She had begun a promising career in Boston’s nonprofit community, holding direct service positions at the West End House, Playworks, City Year, and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston.

“Every year we are moved by the incredible commitment demonstrated by our awardees, and are proud to add three more leaders to the esteemed list of Light of Dawnn recipients,” said Blake Jordan, executive director of the Highland Street Foundation which funds the awards along with the Kraft Family.

Jim Klocke, CEO of Massachusetts Nonprofit Network, the state’s nonprofit trade association, said the awardees “demonstrate Dawnn’s spirit every day, and your work is making a difference that is both substantive and inspirational for all of us.”

  • Maya Dixon, advocate at Women’s Lunch Place, located on Newbury Street, which provides food and advocacy services for homeless women.

  • Marie Joseph, evening coordinator at The Boston Home, based in Dorchester, which provides care of adults with advanced progressive neurological disorders, primarily multiple sclerosis.

  • Desmond Kennard, assistant director at Young Man with a Plan, based in Hyde Park, which works to foster brotherhood, respect, aspiration, and achievement for Black and Latino teens in Boston in order to help them access college, career, and life success.

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, speaking at a virtual ceremony, said, “I was in my first year on city council when Dawnn was taken from us. At a time when I was getting my start in public service, hearing Dawnn’s story redefined my understanding of what it means to be a leader – what it looks like to truly serve our communities.”

In addition to the award winners, five high school seniors were awarded Light of Dawnn Scholarships for their community work. Now in their seventh year, the scholarships were created by John Hancock, where Dawnn’s mother is a longtime employee, and the Foundation To Be Named Later. Scholarships of $5,000 are given to each recipient for higher education.

This year’s scholarship recipients are Maria Camila Fonseca Rojas of John D. O’Bryant School of Mathematics, Marcus McNeill of Fenway High School, Salah Maalim of The Dublin School, Thao Dang Hoang of Boston Latin Academy, and Valerie Rosario of St. Paul’s School.

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