During her work with disadvantaged youngsters in Boston, Dawnn Jaffier, 26, communicated through word and deed that goodness prevails. She was tested sorely in February when one of her students, 9-year-old Janmarcos Pena, was shot and killed. Despite her own grief, Jaffier rallied her students and colleagues to celebrate Pena’s life. Now, Jaffier’s family and her second family at the Boys & Girls Club of Boston must summon the courage to celebrate her life.
Jaffier was shot and killed shortly after 8 a.m. on Saturday while attending a Caribbean-themed parade in Dorchester. She was not the intended target of what appears to be a gang-related shooting. An 18-year-old Dorchester man has been charged with her murder.
Jaffier’s death evokes memories of other innocent Bostonians who were shot and killed under similar circumstances, including Louis Brown, Jermaine Goffigan, Darlene Tiffany Moore, and Trina Persad. They ranged in age from 9 to 15. One could only guess at what kinds of adults they would become.
But Jaffier’s direction was already clear. She had enormous skill at motivating young people who were growing up in difficult circumstances. As an alumna of the Boys & Girls Club, she understood the importance of a safe and healthy afterschool environment.
Though only just getting started in her career, she left an indelible legacy. The many children who knew her are now mourning her loss, and all of Boston should join them. The city needs to find more effective ways to fight guns and gangs. But it will be so much harder to do without Dawnn Jaffier.