Remembering Hannah…Part 1 - Capital Area Food Bank
Skip to main content

Remembering Hannah…Part 1

By Shamia Holloway June 4, 2015

hannahThis is part one of a four-part tribute to Hannah Hawkins. Read the second, third and fourth parts.
There was a deep, long silence when I learned of Hannah Hawkins passing this past May.  I just had dinner with her weeks before; a conversation with her during her weekly Thursday shopping visits to the Capital Area Food Bank; and we were just laughing about the latest gossip. So when her granddaughter called and informed me that her “Mom had passed” – there was only silence.
The silence was not just mine but belonged to the hundreds of children she fed and mentored daily at the Children of Mine Center she founded over 30 years ago; hundreds of homeless men she clothed, offered haircuts and compassion; families that leaned on her for support; and the voiceless for whom she fought for and gave a voice.
Ms. Hawkins worked tirelessly to address the issue of hunger in Ward 8 and helped launch the CAFB’s From the Ground Up in the Community at Children of Mine Center in 2009, a joint initiative that educated low-income youth in the Anacostia community about nutrition, as well as the social and environmental benefits of growing fresh produce. From the Ground Up in the Community was a hands-on urban gardening experience that provided children access and exposure to fresh produce; fostered basic gardening skills; engaged youth in the basics of cooking with fresh produce; and ensured a safe garden space that instilled a sense of pride while creating a place of beauty in the community.
Director of the CAFB’s Partner and Programs, Susan Topping, who worked with Ms. Hawkins on the FGU initiative, remembered, “working in the garden with the kids – Monday was Nutrition Day, Tuesday was Gardening and Thursday was Cooking.  Everyone came for cooking! And part of the reason was that so many of the children wanted to show Ms. Hawkins what they made.  They were so proud of what they had learned and a little praise from Ms. Hawkins went a long way for everyone she touched.”
Ms. Hawkins helped to improve the lives of countless people and her passion has left an indelible mark on the food bank and the region.
“I can’t imagine the loss for the kids who depended on her,” Topping reflected. “Children who came to her center from the age of four when they had absolutely no one else to watch over them. Things were often in disrepair but she was a constant in so many lives that were in flux and chaos – she will be remembered and honored by many, and certainly by me.”
Even in silence, Ms. Hawkins’ vigor lives on through the spark she ignited in others.  The Children of Mine Center will continue to serve as a beacon of hope for the community with the help of dedicated volunteers, including a former student in her after-school program.
Click here to learn how you can help carry on the legacy of the late, great Hannah Hawkins.