On Monday, March 28, 2011, The Philanthropic Initiative, Inc. (TPI) and Mayor Thomas M. Menino presented five Bostonians with the Boston Neighborhood Fellows (BNF) Award. Fellows are ordinary citizens engaged in extraordinary efforts to transform lives, improve their community and make Boston a better place to live and work. The BNF program awards Fellows with a no-strings-attached cash grant and recognition for their unsung efforts.
This inspiring awards ceremony publicly recognized these quiet leaders and gave them the chance to share their powerful stories of community change. Held at City Year’s headquarters in Boston, video footage from this year’s ceremony, including introductions by TPI President, Ellen Remmer and Board Member, Melinda Marble, is available at the City of Boston’s Video Library.
The BNF program was established in 1990 through the generosity of an anonymous donor. Fellows are nominated by an anonymous group of spotters who represent the diversity found in the City of Boston and are selected for their vision, creativity, leadership and commitment to the people and communities with whom they work. During the past 21 years, almost $6 million has been given to 127 outstanding Bostonians through this unique program.
This year, The Philanthropic Initiative's selection committee selected the following people as the 2011 Boston Neighborhood Fellows:
Ismail Abdurrashid, College Bound Dorchester - At the CBD Log School, Ismail Abdurrashid takes on the role of mentor, parent, teacher and friend to the students he calls “his tribe.” He is a creative and dedicated instructor who creates community in his classroom. His eloquence, dedication, and unwavering respect for his students change their vocabulary, their mindset, and ultimately, their futures.
Rob Dixon, Project RISE - At Project RISE, Rob Dixon provides academic help, empowerment, and help with life skills to Boston middle school students. His dedication and commitment inspire volunteers and make him a role model who changes the trajectory of young lives.
Lewis Finfer, Massachusetts Communities Action Network - In 40 years of community organizing, Lew Finfer has helped thousands of Boston families find their voice and make change in their communities. He does it with patience, humility and an unwavering commitment to social justice – a quiet presence that amplifies the hopes and concerns of so many.
Myrtle Huggins, Mattapan/Dorchester Neighborhood Council - An educator and activist, Myrtle Huggins is powered by an immense, kind heart and a powerful vision. Her volunteer service and leadership for so many causes are greatly appreciated by her neighbors and all who know her.
Royal Montez Nunes, The City School - As a community organizer and leader, Royal Nunes shows young people a better way and takes them there, step by step. He willingly takes on the hard work and difficult situations that help him grow. In all he does – from capoeira to counseling, he creates a safe space for others to experience challenge and joy.