Mollie Gavigan Award

Mollie Burd Gavigan was a dear friend and support to DSAMT and the Down syndrome community. When her daughter Jeanne was born with Down syndrome, Mollie was determined to provide her with a Catholic education, so Mollie helped to establish the Hand in Hand program for children with cognitive disabilities at Pope John Paul II High School in Hendersonville. Mollie was a strong advocate for the Down syndrome community, and her support greatly benefited DSAMT.

In honor of Mollie’s legacy, DSAMT created the Mollie Gavigan Service Award to recognize outstanding service to the Down syndrome community.

2020 Recipient - Carolyn Naifeh (far right, pictured with Our Place Nashville residents)

Our Place Nashville opened its doors five years ago.  It has three Friendship Houses that provide integrated, affordable housing for both those with and without disabilities to 50 individuals, 20 of whom have developmental disabilities; their housemates are Vanderbilt graduate students, primarily from the Divinity School, and older adults.  A fourth house is scheduled to open in August 2020, and Our Place has five more Friendship Houses in the pipeline, which will bring its total number of residents to 125+.  Nashville’s Metro Council approved a second Barnes Housing Trust Fund grant -- earmarked exclusively for land purchase and construction – on March 17 for $2M, making much of this expansion possible.  90% of Friendship House residents with IDD are employed (or were employed prior to COVID-19).  Most pay most of their own bills; a few pay all of their own bills.  All of them are thriving in – and proud of -- their independent lives.  Our Place was founded in May 2015 by Carolyn Naifeh, then regional director of the Pujols Family Foundation, and Jaco Hamman, Professor of Religion, Psychology and Culture at Vanderbilt. 

Carolyn serves as the organization’s Executive Director and has been a tremendous partner to DSAMT and force in our DS Community since she moved to Nashville.  Please help us thank her for her support and congratulate her on this honor.


Past Recipients:

2019 - Justin Gilbert, Erin Richardson & Jessica Salonas
2018 - Award moved from Buddy Walk® to 3.21.2019

2017 - Adelaide Nicholson, Ed.D 
2016 - Stephanie Mullowney
2015 - Elise McMillan
2014 - Sheila Moore

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