Michael J. Hawkins Transition Planning Services NJ Corporation is a 501(c)3 Non-profit organization that provides Annual Scholarships and a Hands-on, Community Approach to SAT/ACT and Military Preparation, Academic Enrichment & Career Planning for our Youth as they Transition from High School to Adulthood!
Prior to becoming a special education teacher, I was a correctional officer at a New Jersey county detention center. It was very devastating to me to witness how many young people were incarcerated in an adult facility. According to Quinn, Rutherford, Jr., and Leone (2001), criminal behavior has been strongly linked to a number of factors including dropping out of school, substance abuse, weak family structure, poverty, and learning and behavioral disabilities among others. When students leave school early, are unable to obtain meaningful employment, and engage in delinquent activity, their failure places them at great risk for involvement in juvenile courts and corrections (Leone et al., 2003).
I believed that if I could help young people while they were still in high school, I might be able to motivate at least one person to do something positive with his or her life. I have watched at least three generations of several families spend repeated time in jail. I often wondered who was taking care of their children.
Now as an educator, I find myself advocating for our children because it does take a village to raise a child. If we do not help our children now, they are doomed to create another generation of lifelong incarcerated adults. The purpose of project is to help our children plan for the future and have control over their lives.
The catalyst that fuels my passion is a young man who was like a son to me, Michael J. Hawkins. My Michael had special needs, graduated from high school but still lacked the skills necessary to be employed. By the time we met, he had been in 17 foster homes and three group homes. When Michael turned 18, DFYS gave him $200 and sent him on his way. Eventually Michael joined a gang and was murdered by 10 people. Michael's family could not be located prior to his death, therefore, I had to depend on donations and the State of New Jersey to bury him. I truly believe he is in a better place and watching over us all!