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A Letter To Our Community

Posted 09/12/2014

With the hope that words do indeed become actions, please read the Lewis Family Foundation article published today in the Boston Globe, urging each of us to embrace peace and lead by example. “We all must make a concerted and collective effort to stem the tide of violence.”  We appreciate all of our supporters who help foster positivity and a sense of community!

The Boston Globe LogoLewis Family Foundation Logo


Losing Dawnn Jaffier, one of Boston’s bright young community leaders, is heartbreaking. Dawnn was everything that was right about our city. She became a powerful agent for change thanks to the family and community that raised her in Boston. Her parents challenged her to succeed. She took part in positive, strong programs and pursued her studies earnestly. She went to college and excelled. Then she chose to return to give back. She served in the very programs that developed her own leadership and skills. She gave her heart in the same neighborhoods that were hers. And she taught the next generation of Dawnns what it was like to believe that you can do better and to know that you can, and will, succeed.

And yet, all this was taken from her and from us in the blink of an eye. This shining example of a new Boston was gunned down on our streets and lost forever. A few stray bullets, from a gun that was not sold back, from a person who did not think about our community, took Dawnn and all she meant.

We put out this call for action and ownership, for ALL in this city to take responsibility for the violence that continues to plague the streets in OUR City. Unless and until we work to stop the violent death of black and brown young men and women in our neighborhoods, we should all accept that we are a part of the problem that begs for a solution. One might ask, why such outrage now? OUR response is very simple: we are tired of the violence and mad as hell! OUR anger coupled with OUR belief in the value of all of OUR City’s young people, compels us to act.

As we sit here and once more say, “never again, never will there be another Dawnn,” we know that these are meaningless words if there is no action. What happened to Dawnn is not normal, yet we have normalized city violence. We all must make a concerted and collective effort to stem the tide of violence.

While we know that a problem of this scope requires a thorough, systemic solution, we propose a few steps that we can ALL take immediately:

A. Own the Loss of Each Child: Imagine it as if it were your own child—because they are all OUR children. Every young person is a valuable asset. Let’s push all of OUR young people towards life success.
B. Engage Your Community: Have dinner with your neighbors. Get to know everyone, even those guys on the corner you are afraid of—SAY HELLO.
C. Keep Your Doors Open, Later: Organizations serving our young people must extend their hours during the HOT times when we know OUR young people are most vulnerable to violent crime.
D. Recognize the Trauma and Barriers: Our communities face challenges that can be combated with resources—mental health support, substance abuse treatment, housing, jobs—they are all a priority.
E. Use Your Voice: Reward those who have the courage to speak out. Raise up the problem where there is one and address the problem first through community efforts, then when necessary, through law enforcement.
F. Use Your VOTE: Election season is upon us. Vote for those candidates who have moral courage and who recognize the barriers and trauma affecting our communities on a daily basis. Challenge and elect those who will utilize their voices and more importantly, their budgets to implement change NOW.

Most importantly, get out there and do something today and every day to end the violence in OUR community and don’t stop until it has stopped. Do something different, something more, something. It’s not THEM or THEY that are dying, it is WE and US. And it will continue until we all change and understand that, from the brownstones of the Back Bay to the bricks of Roxbury, Dorchester, and Mattapan, we all play a part in making Boston, OUR city, a world class city.

Inaction is not an option.