For more than 20 years Shandra Dawkins has helped empower women trapped in the cycle of domestic violence, giving them the tools they need to lead safe, productive lives. Recently, she was honored for her contributions by being named the 2008 recipient of The Jim Moran Foundation Award, which brings with it a $25,000 unrestricted grant to the charity of her choice.
Dawkins is just the kind of unsung hero who inspired The Jim Moran Foundation (The Foundation) to establish the annual award in 2003. It was presented to her by The Foundation's Chairman and President Jan Moran during a ceremony on October 16 at The Foundation's Deerfield Beach offices. The bronze sculpture, given to honorees each year, is created by Florida artist George Gadson and features an open book with a child climbing a ladder supported by an outstretched hand. This marks the sixth time the award has been given and the second since Jim Moran's passing in April 2007.
"This Award is my husband's vision for recognizing selfless individuals who have identified real community need for children and families and then immersed themselves in being a part of the solution," said Jan Moran. "It was very important to him that those who needed a helping hand were given every opportunity to succeed, and those who worked hard and reached beyond themselves to take care of others were acknowledged and appreciated in a significant way. I know that Jim would have shared the Board's unanimous decision to honor Shandra."
Dawkins designated the $25,000 grant to the Florida Resource Center for Women and Children, Inc. (FRCWC), to help families who have been victimized by domestic violence. FRCWC was co-founded by Dawkins in 1999, when she saw the need for supplemental support and services for families in neighborhoods such as Riviera Beach and Belle Glade in Palm Beach County.
The organization's mission is to provide individuals with the opportunities for safety, positive life changes, personal growth, esteem building, education, technical assistance, case management and policy development/leadership roles in the local community.
"When I learned that I had received this award, I was truly humbled," Dawkins said. "I am so thankful to be recognized, especially since helping families never seems like work for me. If I can look back over my day and see that I've been able to educate someone about living free of violence, then I feel I've done my job."
In addition to co-founding FRCWC, Dawkins 20-year career advocating for women and children has included service on Gov. Lawton Chiles' 1994 Task Force on Domestic Violence and authorship of Domestic Violence Intervention Curriculum.
The Jim Moran Foundation Award honors individuals who have an established history of giving back to their community through active service and personal commitment. The honoree(s) must exemplify the characteristics of the mission of The Foundation, reflect proven accomplishments that address real community needs and/or concerns and exhibit a spirit that inspires and encourages others to embrace civic and charitable responsibility in meeting the needs of their community. The award selection committee is comprised of the Governance Committee of The Jim Moran Foundation.