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Detroit Investment Makes Big Impact

Annmarie and Neil Hawkins

Neither Annmarie nor Neil Hawkins are native Detroiters, and yet, they’ve championed Detroit for decades as they’ve raised their family while enjoying the Detroit theater scene, the Detroit Institute of Arts and all that the Motor City has to offer.  They’ve also witnessed erosion in Detroit and have a strong desire to help.

“The School of Social Work at the University of Michigan has the passion, commitment and expertise to make a difference and we wanted to lend assistance to that platform to help the people of Detroit,” Neil Hawkins said.

The Hawkins saw first-hand the benefits experienced by their daughter, Rachel Hawkins, MSW ’12, who completed her field work with Detroit area agencies.

Receiving support from the Hawkins family is an honor; it is not only an investment in my education and field learning experience at the Henry Ford Health System Detroit, but also in my future and the lives of the women and children that I will work with throughout my career.

–Kelsi Podgorski

“As Rachel worked through her U-M social work practicum (field work), it dawned on us that students who have limited resources, may not be able to afford the travel expenses and ultimately wouldn’t have the opportunity to learn and serve in Detroit,” said Annmarie.  “If you have the heart and desire to work in the Detroit area, but not the funds, you may not be able to follow your passion and that would be a real loss.”

As a first generation college graduate, Annmarie, along with her husband, wanted others to have an opportunity to have a field experience which best matched their interests and Detroit’s needs.

“We like being involved with direct support and we think working in Detroit provides a one-of-a kind experience,” Neil said, “so we came up with the idea to create a gas fund, which would support students who may not have the resources to make the daily drive to the Detroit area.”

The Rachael M. Hawkins Field Placement Travel Support Fund has provided support to nine social work students.  It is the hope of the Hawkins that their fund will encourage others to think about how they can make a difference in a re-emerging city like Detroit through the University of Michigan School of Social Work.

This award has made it possible to have a field placement that is relevant to my desired practice and population. I have enjoyed every day of my internship at Wolverine Human Services (WHS)- St. Jude's Home for Boys in Detroit, which was made possible by the Hawkins’ award.

–Joe Remaley

“We want to see the students who receive the funding exercise their passions,” Neil said.  “I’m hopeful that the small gift we provide help other donors to see that they can make a difference.”

The Hawkins’ student support is doubled through the gift matching program provided by Neil’s employer, Dow Chemical Company, where he is corporate vice president and chief sustainability officer.

“We’re very impressed with the U-M School of Social Work  program…the caliber of students the School attracts are simply world class.” Annmarie said. “We’re very happy to help U-M SSW attract and maintain these outstanding students and to help prepare them for their careers with urban populations.”


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