- The Washington Times - Monday, August 7, 2000

Hannah M. Hawkins, a widow and retiree, has a motto: "Brighten the corner where you are, the cost of real love is no charge." Her corner is on Mount View Place in Southeast Washington, a few blocks off Good Hope Road and Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, where signs of urban decay are on everywhere, including the personal lives of the young people who live there. Interestingly, those are the very lives brightened by Mrs. Hawkins, whose use of the Bible, tutoring programs, tough love and hot meals have nurtured the souls, minds and bodies of hundreds of young people for 15 years at Children of Mine, a self-help youth center. Sad to say, though, the D.C. government is trying to break her spirit.

The city says the organization that houses Children of Mine owes $100,000 in property taxes dating to 1994. A temporary stay by a D.C. Superior Court judge means the center remains open for now. Also, the D.C. Council is expected to approve legislation this fall that would exempt the nonprofit from paying those taxes.

Mrs. Hawkins' good deeds might not even be threatened if she received funds from the District or from the federal government. She does not. The center is run entirely on donations and the goodwill of volunteers. It costs about $12,000 a month to run, and the two-story house needs about $250,000 in renovations. Government money, Mrs. Hawkins has said, comes with too many strings, and with government money one of those strings is lobbying. "When you start lobbying, you start pimping and prostituting," she said during a break while testifying on Capitol Hill in 1995.

Prostitution, drugs and domestic violence touch most of the children who pass through the center's doors, many of them unkempt. On their own or through word of mouth they learn that Children of Mine is a safe haven. Blessedly, 98 percent of her children finish high school, many of them go on to college, and Mrs. Hawkins and other volunteers help them get scholarships.

"I do this because it's necessary," Mrs. Hawkins said in an Aug. 4 article in The Washington Times. "It's what you used to do. You took care of your community you were an engineer or a doctor, you took care of your community." Here's hoping the community will do what it can to make sure Mrs. Hawkins keeps her arms wrapped around those children of hers.

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