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A Helper and A Doer

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Ann Hampton-Hawkins is the new executive director of the Ann Arbor Community Center. Here she listens to Shana Hunter, 7, count on her fingers at the after-school tutoring program at the northside branch of the Community Center.


Ann Hampton-Hawkins has prepped for her new job

By Janet Miller


Over the past 19 years, Ann Hampton-Hawkins has seen her share of grief: Families without homes, children without food, adults hooked on drugs. Now, she's committed to see more of the same.

Earlier this fall, Hampton-Hawkins was named executive director of the Ann Arbor Community Center, a private, non-profit organization dedicated to helping poor and minority families and individuals.

But Hampton-Hawkins sees more than just the problems. She sees solutions and she sees results.

"I do this because I'm a committed person," she said. "I know this sounds trite, but I like helping and giving and doing. I've got the philosophy of the 1960s."

Hampton-Hawkins came to Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan to attend graduate school. She never left. She's been a social worker for her entire career, with the past two decades at the Ann Arbor Community Center.

Longtime director Walter W. Hill retired this fall, and Hampton-Hawkins, who served as associate director, replaced him. She said she has plans for the center to "move it forward." She will unveil them to the Board of Directors soon, she said.

The center started in 1923 as the Dunbar Community Center, a meeting space and lodging for transient black men. In 1944, the mission of the center changed to helping the poor and minorities.

Today, the center offers after-school tutoring for young people, substance abuse counseling, family counseling, a summer program for the young and more. It also helps people to find food, clothing, housing and funds for their utilities.

Last year, the center served 1,850 people, many for a variety of services. It's located at 625 N. Main St. with a branch location, the Northside Community Center, at 815 Taylor.

Needs are growing and resources are dwindling, said Hampton-Hawkins. "We are very challenged. It's very difficult." There's a waiting list for many of the center's services.

With the latest round of state budget cuts, things are sure to grow worse, she said. "We haven't felt the full effect of the state budget cuts. But we're beginning to see more requests for food and help with the utilities."

Ann Arbor has always been a tough place to find affordable houses for low-income families. "now it's even worse," said Hampton-Hawkins.

While there are few Hollywood-type endings where a disadvantaged youth beats all odds and ends up in college and beyond. Hampton-Hawkins sees evidence of people improving their lives.

"I believe in the center and what it's able to do," she said. "We need to look at each person's goals. Maybe they want to learn to better manage their resources or learn better coping skills. Some do move up an income level or go to college. We do see success. But not as as we'd like."

The center's phone number 662-3128.