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Where are they now?

Compassion | More than a decade after we profiled them in WORLD, these compassionate people and groups are going strong

Issue: "Your right to vote," July 31, 2010

Through online voting at WORLDmag.com/compassion, WORLD readers are now choosing the winner of the 2010 Hope Award for Effective Compassion. One admirable trait shared by our four finalists is the perseverance of their leaders: Year after year, without much money or attention, they work to change lives.

What about compassionate Christians we've covered in the past? Recently I decided to find out whether those we profiled about a decade ago are still at it. Here are brief updates on 10 of them.

Hannah Hawkins (WORLD, March 11, 2000), the widowed mother of five grown children, is celebrating this year the 25th anniversary of Children of Mine, an after-school program in a rundown community center in the poor Anacostia section of Washington, D.C. Devastated by the murder of her husband, she had made a "covenant with God. . . . If He would allow me to get up out of my bed, I would serve those that were less fortunate."

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She told me in 2000 that she wouldn't think of taking government money: "Couldn't have prayer. And when they finish with you, it's not your program, it's theirs." She did once agree to take government-supplied meals, but was not impressed: "The milk was warm, the tacos were cold, and the watermelon was sour. Some of the children didn't want milk, so I didn't give it to them, and then the government people said you didn't give the children complete meals. I said I wanted to teach the children not to waste, but the government people told me, 'Give it to them anyway. Give them a complete meal, and let them throw it in the trash.'"

Hawkins' biggest challenge, she says, is a lack of funding, with donations not coming as they once were. Nearby centers have closed but Children of Mine continues to provide the same services to about 75 children weekly. Hawkins' volunteers also provide haircuts, run a clothing bank, and serve meals to homeless men and children, seniors, and needy families. Church groups come in to teach Bible studies and to cook and feed the needy.

Stephen Broden (WORLD, Sept. 4, 1999) of the Fair Park Friendship Center in Dallas still runs an after-school program for latchkey kids otherwise left alone. FPFC provides tutoring plus arts and crafts, with snacks thrown in, from 3 to 6 p.m. A summer program for 15-20 boys takes them out to local camping sites where they work on developing personal responsibility and the understanding of teamwork. A program for 10 girls emphasizes healthy lifestyles and Bible study.

Broden says his inner-city community needs greater understanding of the value and worth of human life from a divine and biblical perspective. He also faces economic challenges-blue-collar workers in the neighborhood need to improve their skill sets. Federal government programs, he has found, provide services that eliminate incentives for self-determination and produce a dependency mentality.

FPFC moved into a new 10,000- square-foot facility in 2001 that is paid for and debt free: It houses a food pantry, clothing store, and the after-school program. FPFC remains privately funded by businesses and individuals: Finances are always a challenge, but Broden has found people willing to give as long as they see their investment is making a difference in the local community.

Tim Glader (WORLD, Aug. 14, 1999) started Masterworks in Minneapolis to provide basic employment to people who had proven unable to keep a job. He set up a series of incentives to push people to stay on the job for at least a year and was often frustrated when people dropped out after, say, a fight with a girlfriend. But he has kept at it, and Masterworks now operates a packaging business and a thrift store and manages several apartment buildings.

John Piper's Bethlehem Baptist Church has continued to support Masterworks, and some employees have broken out of their self-destructive cycles. Some with prison records, though, have found it hard to transition to better jobs: Employers often cannot get insurance to cover ex-inmates. The continuing recession has stung small businesses that are the biggest job providers.

Prince Cousinard (WORLD, Feb. 20, 1999) ran Inner City Youth, a refuge in Houston's rough Third Ward for kids abandoned by drug-dealing dads. Now he and his wife, Sheila, have expanded his small neighborhood sports ministry into a program with 14 staff members, The Forge for Families, that offers activities for both kids and adults.

Their children's programs include seasonal team sports, summer youth camps, daily after-school programs, and a character development program for girls. Their adult programs include a seven-week life skills development curriculum, friendship circles for mentoring, personal counseling, and a recovery program. The Cousinards remain in the Third Ward, remain committed to Christ, and attract 400 volunteers each year.

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