Tragically on May 28, 2020, my youngest daughter Shana Donahue passed away at the age of 26 due to domestic violence. This news was so shocking, heartbreaking and unexpected for all of us who knew and loved Shana. Equally heartbreaking for the many lives she touched through her social influence, tireless commitment to work and advocacy in the DC-MD-VA communities.
A DMV native, Shana was driven by a passion for childhood nutrition education — a passion she put into practice by studying nutrition and dietetics at the University of the District of Columbia, serving with FoodCorps in 2015, and joining the FRESHFARM family in 2016. Her impact was immediately felt throughout the District, first at Ludlow Taylor Elementary School (Ward 6), then Anne Beers Elementary School (Ward 7), and most recently as the FoodPrints Lead Teacher at Simon Elementary School (Ward 8).
Shana’s love of nutritious food — both growing it in the garden and preparing it to eat alongside her students — was infectious. Shana was particularly proud to share this love of growing and eating healthy vegetables with young Black students in DC who too often struggle with food insecurity at home and food access in their communities. Shana’s commitment to racial equality and justice in the District had a profound impact on all of us at FRESHFARM, and we intend to honor her legacy by keeping these principles at the forefront of our work every day.
When the pandemic crisis struck DC, Shana sprang into action at the emergency food distribution site at Kimball Elementary, where she managed the distribution of fresh produce to families every week. She quickly remembered individuals’ names and stories and created a sense of community for everyone coming in to pick-up food. This warmth and love was part of Shana’s character. She easily made everyone around her feel welcomed, listened to, and cared for.
She always wore the most stylish outfits and was happy to share her style tips with anyone who asked. Shana’s beauty also shone through in the way she worked and cared for others. Shana loved her work as a FoodPrints teacher. It was her passion to give back to the community that she grew up in. At Simon Elementary, Shana taught students across all grade levels how to cook and eat nutritious foods. She shared with them the joy growing and harvesting in a garden. Shana effortlessly earned the attention and adoration of her students by quietly pointing out a butterfly on a nearby flower for them to see or genuinely exclaiming how delicious their homemade pesto pasta tasted. This was just the type of person that Shana was: caring, selfless, and thoughtful.
To lose Shana to such a senseless act of domestic violence is both tragic and infuriating, but those feelings fuel our commitment to keeping Shana’s spirit alive through continuing her work with DC’s students — in the DC classrooms she served, kitchens, and gardens. Shana believed deeply in making DC a healthier region while developing equitable food choices for young people and for all of us. I wish to keep her vision and passion alive through giving back to others and making a difference in their lives for Shana.
The proceeds from this fundraiser in Shana's memory will go to FRESHFARM FoodPrints where Shana served as a FoodPrints lead teacher at Simon Elementary School (Ward 8) and the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV). The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) works to organize for collective power by advancing transformative work, thinking, and leadership of communities and individuals working to end the violence in our lives.
For women of color, particularly Black and Latina women, who come from communities that are inordinately affected by police brutality, reporting to the police seems like an absurd option. Additionally, there are cultural pressures for women to resist reporting because such examples of violence within their communities would reinforce stereotypes many people harbor that people of color, especially Black men, are inherently violent. Furthermore, communities of color have a long history of putting the struggles of women behind those of their male counterparts as seen in the Black Lives Matter movement of the past three years; a movement that has rallied around combating the murders of Black men has generally gone eerily silent in the face of police brutality against Black women.
NCADV is affecting public policy, provides programs to victims, survivors and their advocates and serves as the voice of domestic violence victims and survivors.
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