Updated: Aug 28
LaShawn Hawkins is a transplant. Born in Queens, she has lived in 22 states. To be close to her ailing grandmother, a cousin recommended she move to Gloversville. "It was so pretty in all the snow," she says. speaking of her first days in the city after her winter move from Florida to upstate New York. "Then, all the snow melted."
LaShawn raised her children in Gloversville. Over the years it became home. Then, George Floyd was murdered. Deciding something needed to be done, she formed I Can Breathe & I Will Speak, a not for profit dedicated to 'seeking justice for all races across the United States by bridging the gap between communities and law enforcement'.
She organized the first Black Lives Matter rallies in the Fulton county area, including producing a documentary of the Black Lives Matter protests in Gloversville. She began her collaboration with the Gloversville Police Department, becoming an asset in mental health crisis calls. She intervenes on behalf of those who can't advocate for themselves, even taking time to sit with those waiting for a bed a St. Mary's Hospital.
In the past two years LaShawn has become a force of positive action in the community. She's cooked lunches for kids playing at Elm St. park, participated in city council meetings, distributed food at Food Drives, helped organize the first Pride Picnic in Gloversville, helped arrange and get the word out about numerous local protests and rallies, the most recent of which was for a local high school student who rallied against the Roe v Wade decision of the Supreme Court.
She does all this without staff. She credits her volunteers, often retirees in the city, with the ability to accomplish so much.
Not only does she own and operate this not for profit, she works for the Enlarged Gloversville School District as the Family Community Educator. She fills the gap in communication between the school district and families. She provides support to families to obtain transportation to school, glasses, social services, even school supplies.
You can donate to I Can Breathe & I Will Speak through Venmo here.