Local leaders awarded by U.S. Department of Education for service

CALERA – Shelby County leaders, Oscar and Cindy Hawkins, leaders of Kids First Eagles 21st Century Community Learning and Resource Center, were recently honored in Washington D.C. for the work they do to help those in the Shelby County community.

The Hawkinses received the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drum Major Innovation Community Service Award on April 3 at the United States Department of Education’s Lyndon B. Johnson Building.

The award is given by U.S. Department of Education Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships and the ED’s White House Initiative on Educational Excellence, which recognizes African Americans in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy.

The award is given to volunteers who perform “extraordinary every-day acts of service,” according to the Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships website. Service includes leading through outreach, mission-driven service, volunteerism and ministry focused on innovative educational experiences for students.

Kids First offers an afterschool program for students as well as family education and workforce development for adults. The organization first opened in Alabaster, but relocated to Calera in December of 2017.

In addition to an after-school program where students can receive tutoring and help with homework, students also have access to computers, college and career preparation services, health and nutrition education and service learning projects.

The facility also offers resources for parents, such as the Parent Café, which will educate parents about various resources that are available to help them.

“Since 1999, our mission has been simple,” Cindy Hawkins said. “Kids First is strengthening families to make a positive difference by building hope in children and families through education and resources.”

Cindy Hawkins said her goal is to help produce working, well-balanced members of society.

“We are very pleased to receive this award,” Cindy Hawkins said. “It’s acknowledgement that we are making progress. I felt truly honored and it’s not because of the award itself. It’s the hard work behind the award. The joy comes in knowing that others see the impact of your work.”