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July 9, 2020
Three Mass. Nonprofit Workers Receive Light of Dawnn Awards
Light of Dawnn
February 25, 2020 — Three front line workers at Massachusetts nonprofits today were honored for their commitment to community service and presented with Light of Dawnn awards, named after Dawnn Jaffier, a victim of gun violence, which includes $5,000 in cash.

Speaking at an awards ceremony at the West End House Boys and Girls Club in Allston, a nonprofit that helps young people succeed academically and adopt healthy lifestyles, Gov. Charlie Baker said, “Our administration is grateful for the West End Boys and Girls Club’s dedication to the continued celebration of Dawnn’s life and service. Congratulations to this year’s award and scholarship recipients, each of whom exemplify Dawnn’s compassion, leadership, and kindness.”

The awards were named for Dawnn Ashley Jaffier, who was shot to death in August 2014 at age 26 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. The awards were sponsored by the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network, the state's nonprofit trade association, Highland Street Foundation, and the Kraft family.

Honored were the following:
  • Aspen Eberhardt, operations director at Greater Boston PFLAG, based in Waltham, which works to change attitudes and create an environment of understanding so that LGBTQ family members and friends can live in a safe, inclusive world. Aspen led GBPFLAG’s efforts on the historic Yes on 3 ballot question campaign, which successfully preserved the civil rights of transgender people in Massachusetts, and is currently advocating in favor of a nonbinary Gender X marker on all state-issued IDs.

    “I want to feel like I’m giving back and doing something meaningful,” Aspen said. “ I want to bolster acceptance for LGBTQ people in the greater community, and give other folks opportunities that I did not experience.”

  • Shantell Jeter, physical education teacher at Boston Green Academy, a charter school founded in 2011 as Boston’s only school focused on sustainability and preparing the next generation of diverse leaders for college and green careers. In addition to running health and wellness programming, she builds strong community partnerships, including an incentive program for students who are excelling at school to attend special events at the West End House, as well as professional development opportunities for fellow Boston Green Academy faculty.

    Jeter was close friends with Jaffier and grew up going to the West End House with her. “People were shocked at the effect that her death had on the community,” she recalled, noting that she began to question her own purpose in life, and remembers asking herself, “what am I going to leave behind?” Jeter created The Biggest Fun Ever, a summer family event that features things that Jaffier loved to share with others: games, dancing, a basketball tournament, and lots of delicious food.

  • Isabel Villela, case manager of the Madres y Niños en Proceso (Mothers and Children in Process) program at La Alianza Hispana, a Roxbury-based nonprofit that provides a range of social services to the Latino community and residents of nearby Boston neighborhoods. Villela, who has been with La Alianza Hispana for 22 years, currently works with 45 families enrolled in the program where they are at physically and culturally, teaching in-home parenting skills such as identifying age-appropriate games, limiting screen time, and encouraging interactive games, and reading.

    Speaking of her work with young mothers, teenagers, and elders, Villela said, “I spend a lot of time working on what they need, setting up support and services for them to achieve their goals. I have to be available to them.” She added, “I’m a happy person. I always try to be positive, and the people I serve can see that I’m here to do good.”
In addition, three high school seniors were awarded $5,000 Light of Dawnn Scholarships, funded by John Hancock Life Insurance Company, where Jaffier's mother is a longtime employee, and the Foundation To Be Named Later. The recipients were Aleena Mangham and Lesley Carranza of the West End House Boys and Girls Club and Erika Yamilet Garcia of Beacon Academy.
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