Stevensville’s own Audrey Hawkins was honored at the Second Annual Governor’s Leadership in Aging Awards Ceremony and Reception held at the Annapolis Senior Activity Center on May 12.
The event was part of the month long celebration of Older Americans Month and was emceed by Maryland Secretary of Aging Gloria Lawlah with a special appearance by Lt. Governor Anthony Brown.
Hawkins, 90 years old, had worked for the Queen Anne’s County Office of Tourism for 12 years before the office merged with the Department of Economic Development, Agriculture and Tourism in July 2007. Hawkins is just one of six women who work as weekend travel counselors at the Chesapeake Exploration Center, home to the county’s VisitorCenter and Tourism Office.
“The Queen Anne’s County Department of Aging asked me to represent the county and I said I’d be honored to do so,” said Hawkins of the Leadership in Aging Awards Ceremony.
As the oldest employee in Queen Anne’s County, Hawkins joined 19 others across the state in a recognition ceremony honoring Maryland’s Mature Workers. Hawkins’s guests included daughter Virginia Ingling; Barbara Siegert, Tourism Manager for Queen Anne’s County and Myrtle Bruscup, her sister-in-law, who also works as a travel counselor at the Chesapeake Exploration Center.
“These people truly are the long distance runners,” said Lawlah, before introducing the 20 recipients. By continuing to be active in the workforce and contributing to the community, these older Americans are being recognized for excellence and outstanding contributions to the field of aging and quality of life, Lawlah said.
The Maryland Mature Workers honor is just one of many for Hawkins, who officially retired from the Maryland Comptroller’s Office in 1982. Retirement did not mean slowing down for Hawkins; on the contrary she jumped full force into volunteer work with the Kent Island Heritage Society and is a charter member of the group which formed in 1975. In 1995 she was selected as Queen Anne’s County’s Most Beautiful Volunteer and represented the county at the state ceremony in Annapolis.
“I started out serving refreshments (for the Kent Island Heritage Society) and then I became treasurer…In 1990, 1991 and 1992, I was President and then became treasurer again in 1992 through 2005,” she said. She and Wayne Morris now serve as co-treasurers.
Hawkins also serves as the docent coordinator for the six Kent Island Heritage Society sites of the Historic Sites Consortium, as well as the Historic Christ Church property owned by the county. Broad Creek Cemetery, the Cray House, the Kirwan Museum, the Stevensville Train Depot, Old Stevensville Post Office and Stevensville Bank are open on the first Saturday of the month from May to October from noon to 4 p.m.
Hawkins said she hopes she has been instrumental in making people aware of Queen Anne’s County as a tourist destination and has always advocated history and historic sites as a tourist industry. She also gives a lot of credit to the Office of Tourism for coordinating bus tours and bringing people, and their money, to Queen Anne’s County.
“These bus tours were all arranged by Barbara Siegert and we have people from all over…Pennsylvania, Virginia,Delaware and all across Maryland…coming to Queen Anne’s County. On April 26 we had over 80 people come on two buses and they stopped at the Exploration Center for a briefing before heading out on their tour of the county. They ate dinner at a local restaurant, stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn at the Kent Narrows and then left the next day,” she said.
“Hawkins is a true delight to work with,” said Siegert, “and has trained all the other travel counselors to be just as conscientious and dependable.”
Hawkins said she gives a lot of credit to her daughter Virginia for keeping her active into her ninth decade. “She has always been supportive of me, always included me in all her activities and always urged me to take part in things I may have thought I was too old to do,” she said. Mother, daughter and grandson have traveled the world together, including a trip to China and an African safari, as well as a train excursion through the Canadian Rockies at the age of 85 in 2004.
“When you feel needed, wanted and loved, that keeps you young well into your older years,” she said.
The Queen Anne’s County Commissioners are also planning to honor Hawkins at a meeting later this summer.