FLINT — The Flint Jewish Federation, in partnership with the Flint Institute of Arts, honored Louis Hawkins, Kay Kelly and Mitchell Weiss as recipients of the 24th Annual Donald Riegle Community Service Award, Oct. 24.
This annual event honors three members from the local community for their dedication and commitment to community service. It is named for Michigan’s former Senior United States Senator Donald W. Riegle who during his legislative career co-sponsored most of the major legislation pertaining to freedom of immigration issues.
Proceeds for this fundraiser will provide support services and acculturation programs to refugees and other immigrants in Genesee County.
Hawkins earned a B.A. in Mathematics from Tuskegee University in Alabama and a M.A. in Economics from U/M-Ann Arbor. Shortly after moving to Flint, he was hired as the City of Flint’s first Affirmative Action Officer (AAO), and was eventually appointed Flint City Clerk. Later, he became AAO/Director for Genesee County, and is currently the Community Relations Administrator for HealthPlus.
He generously invests his time and resources in numerous community organization by serving on their boards and committees. A few examples include: Flint Institute of Arts; McCree Theatre; Downtown Development Authority (DDA); Jewish Community Services; Greater Flint Arts Council; Priority Children; FM Financial Credit Union Board; Genesee County Hate Crimes Task Force; Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity; and Life Member of the NAACP.
His past professional and community service is extensive, include serving as Gov. Milliken’s appointee to the Midwest Intergovernmental Equal Employment Opportunity Committee (MIEEOC) representing Michigan. He was later elected President of MIEEOC, representing the entire Midwest region of the U.S.
He said that whatever positive impact he may have had on the community was not done by him alone, but with the favor of God, and the influence of people like Olive Beasley, Edgar Holt, Melvin McCree, Gary Alter, Kay Huber, and others who are deceased, as well as too many to name who are still alive.
He gives all glory to God and is a member of Grace Emmanuel Baptist Church, where Reverend Marvin A. Jennings, Sr. is Pastor.
Kelly has long been a fierce advocate for her community. Raised in Flint during its boom years, she returned to her hometown after being away for 15 years to marry Michael Kelly and plunged into intense efforts to rebuild and beautify her community. Best known for her work as Director of the Kearsley Park Project, she took responsibility for a 57-acre historical park in the heart of the city, a once-proud area that had fallen into the hands of drug dealers and other criminals. Working with dedicated neighbors, she raised over three million dollars, built sports fields and playgrounds and turned the historical Pavilion into an active center for theater, music and celebrations.
In addition to her work at Kearsley Park, she has been an active volunteer. She was the founding President of Keep Genesee County Beautiful, serving in that post for more than eight years. She served for ten years as a member of the Club, Art Class and others.
Kelly earned her BA from the University of Michigan-Flint on a full merit scholarship and her MFA from Wayne State University on a full fellowship, and was a member of the Hilberry Repertory Theater. After school, Kay moved to NYC to pursue her passion for theater. While in NYC, she was a professional working actress, earning her membership in Equity, American Federation of Television & Radio Actors (AFTRA) and Screen Actors Guild (SAG). She appeared on “The Guiding Light” for five years and performed stand-up comedy in New York City as well as up and down the Eastern seaboard.
Kay and her husband, Michael, proudly live in the City of Flint, but also enjoy travel. Recent trips included Istanbul, Prague, Budapest and Marrakech but her favorite place to visit is England. Her hobbies are gardening and restoring a little cottage on Cedar Lake with her husband, Michael Kelly.
Weiss was born in Chicago on April 13, 1941 at Mt. Sinai Hospital, the son of Julius and Rhea Weiss and has one sibling, sister, Trudie Goldfarb.
He went to the University of Illinois for his B. A., majoring in political science. For the first two years he attended Navy Pier branch of the University and went down to Champaign-Urbana to complete his bachelor’s degree in June of 1963. In the fall of that year, he entered the University of Chicago and received his Master’s degree in political science in May of 1966. — G.G.