One fine summer morning in 1989, a young college student, Lynn Hawkins, began to volunteer at Casa de Esperanza de Los Ninos in Houston, Texas. What she saw there horrified her, inspired her, and then eventually changed her life. Children rescued from horrific scenes of child abuse were provided a home there and a team of loving individuals who had dedicated their lives to social service nurtured them tenderly.
Smiles replaced the fear on the children’s faces gradually, Lynn wanted to make this her life. She returned home to New Jersey and started volunteering as a child care worker at a group home in Jersey City. There she met the most important person in her life, the one-year-old curly haired baby, the one who would give a new meaning to her dream, her adopted daughter Quady. Little did she know that this little baby would grow up to have a similar dream, to open a home to provide a safe haven for children and families at risk in New Jersey.
Twenty something years later, Quady graduated from Seton Hall and made her mother a promise, that she would work on her mother’s dream and together they would build the home. She kept her promise. They travelled back to Houston to understand how the community care system worked and started planning a home here in New Jersey. Today, the mother-daughter duo, armed with expertise and knowledge, need your help to form of community who cares about children and their futures.
Come, be a part of their journey!
Lynn Hawkins has spent most of her life volunteering or being involved in nonprofits. She has been passionate about preventing child abuse all of her life. When she was 21, after studying Community and Family Services at University of Delaware, she moved away from the only home she knew in New Jersey to Texas, where she interned at Casa De Esperanza. At Casa, a home for abused and neglected children, she went from being a child care worker in the houses to being the head houseparent in one of their new developmental therapeutic homes for children. When she returned home to NJ she knew she wanted to open a similar home to help the children here the way Casa De Esperanza helped the children in Texas. It took her a while to make this dream become a reality because she fell in love with a little girl and soon adopted her. Meanwhile, she has worked as a Relief House Manager at the Ronald McDonald House and still works there part time. She also works at a private school in Monmouth County. Now 25 years later with her daughter by her side she has founded Pinwheel Place. Lynn knows first hand the impact that the simple act of showing you care has on children and hopes that Pinwheel Place will be a community of like minded people willing to make a difference in a child’s life.
Quadhera Simmons- A passionate young professional, Quadhera, known to most as Quady, has worked in many positions with young children. She first was an art assistant at Ranney School Camp for five consecutive summers and one summer also worked with special needs adults at a school in Monmouth County. She interned with special needs pre-school children and with adults with mental illnesses while she was studying at Seton Hall University. Quadhera graduated with a Major in Social and Behavioral Sciences and a minor in Social Work. After graduating she volunteered once a week in the Child Life Department at Jersey Shore Medical Center until she started Pinwheel Place. Until it closed she also worked at St. Clare’s Home for Children where the children were often seen with Quady doing her latest project or playing and singing. She also has spent many hours working at the YMCA Child Achievement Branch. Quady is dedicated to making a difference in children’s lives and has a passion for helping children with special needs. “ I believe that all children have a right to be safe, loved and valued” . In her spare time, Quady enjoys partaking in many crafty endeavors and is not afraid of a little mess “ because it is what makes life fun”.