Gov. Ivey honors Kids First for 25 years of service

Published 12:25 pm Tuesday, June 11, 2024

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By NOAH WORTHAM | Managing Editor 

ALABASTER – After 25 years of service to the Alabaster and Clanton communities, the local nonprofit Kids First is retiring.

“I feel really blessed just to have the opportunity to help people and we look forward to the future,” said Cindy Hawkins, who founded Kids First alongside Oscar Hawkins. “We have done a lot, and now it’s time for us to do something different.”

In recognition of the organization’s retirement and years of making a positive difference in local communities, Gov. Kay Ivey honored Cindy and Oscar in Montgomery on June 6 and signed a document commending Kids First for its efforts.

Cindy shared how it felt to be present in the governor’s office for the commendation after all those years of working to serve the community.

“I thought we were walking on clouds—It was just a feeling I have never felt before,” Cindy said. “It was a proud moment with some family and friends.”

As Ivey signed the commendation, Cindy and Oscar were joined by several government officials, stakeholders and community members  including the following:

  • State Rep. Kenneth Paschal
  • Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles Director Cam Ward
  • Alabama Secretary of State Division Director Shemekwa Farrow
  • Alabama Public Health Director Molly Killman
  • Serve Alabama Coordinator Melinda Stallworth
  • Serve Alabama Communications and Engagement Officer Loni Green
  • Habitat for Humanity Autauga-Chilton Board Member Tom Risher
  • Taniya Duncan with the Alabama Retirement System
  • Air Force Veteran James L. Talley
  • Jay Stephen Garrett of Garrett Music Hoover
  • Real Estate Agent Gayla Schofield

“I wish the Hawkins family, employees of Kids First and all other affiliates and volunteers mighty success in the years to come,” read the official commendation signed by Ivey.

Oscar and Cindy first moved to Alabaster from Atlanta, Georgia in 1998 and, after realizing that there were children in at-risk areas without a positive program to be involved in, they got to work.

In 1999, with the help of friends, Cindy and Oscar organized the first annual Kids Block Party Fun Service Day. They provided children with a variety of activities and a free lunch with the goal to encourage children to stay in school and resists drugs and violence while also raising positive community awareness.

From July 20, 2022 to March 2016, Cindy and Oscar had the opportunity to opens the Kids First Awareness Community Learning Center—a faith-based 501(c)(3) non-profit located in Valley Public Housing in Alabaster.

In June 2003, the Alabaster mayor and the City Council honored Kids First by presenting it with the Key to the City of Alabaster for outstanding service and dedication the city and its citizens. Additionally, in 2011, Kids First youth, alongside officials, dedicated the first street to Martin Luther King Jr. in Shelby County.

The nonprofit organization also accomplished the following services:

  • Operated after-school programs in Alabaster and Calera through Alabama Department of Education Federal Programs from 2010 to October 2019
  • Kids First Bridge of HOPE Adult Job Outreach expanded to its new location in Clanton in 2019
  • Kids First Bridge of HOPE Adult Outreach hosted at the YMCA the Seeds of Kindness Awards & Basketball in Clanton in 2019
  • Kids First Bridge of HOPE Job Outreach opened its first ministry home on Martin Luther King Street in Clanton in 2019
  • Kids First Bridge of HOPE Adult Job Outreach hosted at the YMCA the Family Basketball & Day of Service in Clanton in 2021
  • Kids First Bridge of HOPE Adult Outreach hosted the Seed of Kindness Awards & Community Prayer Walk in Clanton in 2022
  • Kids First Bridge of HOPE Adult Job Outreach hosted the Seed of Kindness Awards & Day of Service in Clanton in 2023

While Kids First is reaching a retirement for Cindy, she still sees herself continuing to be a positive force for good to those around her.

“I just want to be blessing (in) whatever I do from this day forward, like I’ve been in the past,” Cindy said.