Three Local “Unsung Heroes” Win Awards

Thomas MacMillan PhotoDan 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.

Lucy Gellman PhotoThe 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.)

Allan Appel PhotoThe 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.

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posted by: Josiah Brown on December 4, 2014  10:13pm

Congratulations to all of the award recipients, and thanks to the Wessel family for supporting them.

My children and I attended one of the musical performances that Dan Kinsman has orchestrated at Fair Haven School and were impressed.  (Together with Ballet Haven, under the leadership of Mnikesa Whitaker and Monica Bunton, this music program makes the performing arts at Fair Haven a notable community asset.)

Raymond Wallace is doing important work on a very modest budget.  For his mentoring and literacy promotion efforts, he forms partnerships with institutions such as the Wilson branch of the New Haven Public Library, as mentioned in this account of a recent Literacy Forum: