Remarkable Women finalist juggles meeting the community’s educational, physical and spiritual needs

Remarkable Women

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — It’s hard to argue that aside from our health care workers, educators have absolutely played a pivotal role during this pandemic.

Whether conducting virtual learning or transitioning back into the classroom, they’ve never stopped working to guide the next generation during a very tough time for all. 10 On Your Our third Remarkable Women Finalist is among them.

Pastor Dawn Williams is an educator, motivator, entrepreneur, sister, mother, and friend to many. And there aren’t many hats that she doesn’t wear while as she calls it being “Plugged into Purpose.”

During the pandemic, she’s only taken her love of enabling and empowering the community up a notch.

“I am plugged into purpose for His glory, and I just believe that when you plug into purpose, your purpose will keep you going,” said Williams.

Williams is truly a remarkable woman. She’s been an educator in Norfolk Public Schools for over 20 years, selected as Teacher of the Year not once but twice because her commitment to her students goes well beyond a few hours of the day in the building.

She’s created the Ruffner Rubies mentoring group for young girls to boost their self-esteem and help them strive to be their best.

“Self-esteem, self-respect, self-acceptance — I want them to really just understand about themselves,” said Williams.

During the challenging months when students were learning from home, Williams joined with other educators in Operation Reclaim our Students, going into neighborhoods to find out exactly what they needed to succeed.

And speaking of meeting needs in this unprecedented time, while serving as executive pastor at Greater Grace Church in Portsmouth, Williams worked with the city and became a site coordinator for Grace Cares. It’s a program that prepares free bags of food and everyday items daily for people in the area.

“If there’s ever a phenomenal woman aside from Maya Angelou, it’s Dawn Michelle,” said Myrtle Kinard, who nominated Williams after seeing 10 On Your Side’s contest online. “I nominated her because I believe she’s a mover and a shaker. She is unselfish in everything she does. She does so much in so many different areas. I don’t know how she does it, but with God’s help, she gets it done.”

Willams was instrumental in starting “Dusk to Dawn,” an intercessory prayer group to meet people’s spiritual needs as we weather difficult days. And she just launched a virtual church, Breaking of Day.

“Dawn means the breaking of day and that’s where it came from, and we’ve been able to bless some single moms with scholarships, a book blessing,” said Williams. “With the help of the Holy Spirit, I feel like I have supernatural energy. I tell people sometimes I feel like the energizer bunny. I just keep going and going.”

And with all that she juggles, Williams’ most important title is “Mom.” Her biological children are adults now at 24 and 31 years old. But, seven years ago life changed when her sister died. She became a “bonus mom” to her 10-year-old nephew. She has since legally adopted Future and at 17 he’s a student-athlete on the honor roll, headed for great things. 

“I really don’t know what I would do without him,” said Williams. “I really don’t want to have an empty nest right now. I would never expect to be on this right now. I’m just doing it because it’s all I know to do. I just know to be a helper.

She says she was raised by remarkable women who made her who she is today. No doubt, our community as a whole, and the next generation especially, is better for having Pastor Dawn Williams around.

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