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RISE San Diego honors local leaders for efforts to improve communities

Among the honorees was Bevelynn Bravo, who co-founded Mothers with a Message after her son, Jaime, was murdered in City Heights in 2012.

SAN DIEGO — Six San Diego community leaders or organizations were recently honored for their efforts to improve communities. RISE San Diego handed out its annual Inclusive Leadership in Action award last week to leaders of grassroots organizations.

Among the honorees was Bevelynn Bravo, who co-founded Mothers with a Message after her son, Jaime, was murdered in City Heights in 2012 while walking to visit a friend.

“I remember being there when my son was killed. He didn't die alone. I died with him and so did my entire family and I don't want another family to go through that,” said Bravo. 

Bravo helped channel her grief and anger into a support system for other families. They began by helping victims' families and then started offering support and interventions to at-risk youth.

“We have some dedicated mothers who also, just like me, don't want this to happen to anybody else and so they share their story every day,” said Bravo.

The group later expanded into prisons where they meet with inmates to explain how their actions impacted a community. They also take back lessons inmates would want to teach those who are on the same path.

“This is the type of work that is really making San Diego a better place. You see people on TV, you hear press conferences, but the real change is happening with people like Bevelynn,” said Tony Young, President/CEO of RISE San Diego and former president of the San Diego City Council. 

Other award recipients included Nancy Maldonado, who leads the Chicano Federation of San Diego County, Mitchelle Woodson, Executive Director of Think Dignity, and Isabel Vega, a volunteer at Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center who was named an emerging leader.

“We believe that the people who can best solve those issues or address those issues are the people who live in these communities,” said Young. “There are some very bright people in these communities that have the answers if we can just find ways to support them and include them in the discussion on these important policy issues that are in front of us.” 

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