Dan Kinsman, Raymond Wallace and Music Haven won grants for their community work, through the Morris & Irmgard Wessel Fund’s Unsung Heroes Awards.
Under Kinsman’s oversight over the past four years, Fair Haven School students have learned to play instruments and music from all over the world. He won the award because of his focus on cultural diversity and “role in integrating immigrants into the community” at a school with many students new to the country. He plans to use the grant to buy computer and sound equipment.
Wallace turned around a lifetime of drugs and violence to become a leading activist in the effort to make the city safer. He founded citywide youth program Guns Down Books Up in 2010 after one of his friends was murdered.
A resident of the Hill neighborhood, he organizes community basketball and flag football games, barbecues, and fundraisers for families of shooting victims.
The third award recipient, Music Haven, provides free after-school lessons in classical music to kids from Newhallville, Dwight, Dixwell and the Hill neighborhoods. Founded by Yale Music School graduate Tina Lee Hadari in 2006, the nonprofit is located on Whalley Avenue and has an annual budget grown to $460,000. (Click here for links to some of the many Independent stories detailing the group’s community work.)
The Wessel Fund, administered through the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, is named after two longtime New Haven social-justice proponents, Dr. Morris Wessel and the late Irmgard Wessel. (Read about her here.) Irmgard is pictured above with Solar Youth’s Terryn Edwards at the 2011 awards event; Morris is pictured with Solar Youth’s Destiny Littlebelow at the same event.