Mar 28

Hannah Hawkins, a Baptist who converted to Roman Catholicism, seems to relish breaking the mold and being difficult to pigeonhole. She started the Children of Mine Center for two reasons.

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After working for Brooklyn College Community Partnership, she worked for eight years as an advisory neighborhood commissioner for Washington, D.C. In the District of Columbia, there are 37 Advisory Neighborhood Commissions, each composed of nine members. The groups advise the city government on issues such as zoning, streets, recreation, education, social services, sanitation, planning, safety, and health. Hawkins’ ANC work brought her into intimate contact with the ills besetting her community. She saw how crack cocaine was affecting the young people–and their children. She saw many young men being sent off to be warehoused in prison. She saw many young women jailed. She saw the despair.

In addition, her three sons–she has five children and is a grandmother of four–all became crack addicts. (Today, they have recovered and hold jobs. One is a chef at a halfway house. Another is a landscaper. Her daughters work in the computer field for the federal government.) Struggling with a heartbreaking situation so close to home moved her to become an activist.

Hawkins, who worked for 30 years as an administrative aide in the D.C. school system, being forced to retire on disability due to dangerously high blood pressure, was elected vice president of a group called Concerned Mothers Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse. Through her work there, she came in touch with a stream of wives and mothers and caring relatives in anguish because their loved ones had fallen prey to “this scourge.”

“JFK once said that he could not have …