Perhaps the unassuming young boy who grew up in a farming community in rural Alabama could not have imagined the business success he would achieve as a grown man. But Dwayne Hawkins did achieve. Cutting his teeth in the auto industry, he proved to be a gifted car salesman. In the late 1960s, he would take a single flailing auto dealership on 34th Street in St. Petersburg and turn it into a success. Then he did it again — and again. Today the Crown Automotive Group boasts more than 20 dealerships in several states, and its founder has received national recognition for his achievements in the industry.
But it’s what Hawkins has done outside of the industry that has drawn even greater admiration, and made him the recipient of the William S. “Bill” Belcher Award. Over 50 years, Hawkins has made a name for himself not only as a community leader, but as a philanthropist dedicated to helping strengthen and support his community in areas including housing, education, health care and the arts.
Making a Difference
As a dedicated member of the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Board of Trustees, Hawkins has not only helped support and navigate the hospital through major change in recent years, he also has strengthened it with his dollars. His generous donations include providing for the endowment of the Hawkins Family Foundation Cancer and Blood Disorders Professorship, which will support the institute’s future director, as well as some unfunded priorities of the institute each year.
“People have helped me along the way, and I feel it’s my turn to help them,” Hawkins says.
Jenine Rabin, executive vice president of Johns Hopkins All Children’s Foundation, says Hawkins is truly exceptional.
“He values community, personal relationships and operates with kindness and integrity,” Rabin says. “His investment in Johns Hopkins All Children’s is a reflection of those traits. It’s been an honor to witness his philanthropy in action.”
Beyond health care, Hawkins has aided Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas County, Feeding Children Everywhere initiative, Pinellas County Education Foundation’s Finance Park and the arts scene through support for theaters and museums across St. Petersburg, from the Mahaffey Theater to the Museum of Fine Arts to the Dali museum.
Kevin Hawkins, Dwayne’s son and CEO of Mid-Atlantic Finance, says his dad is the embodiment of the American dream — a true rags to riches story.
“He truly loves St. Petersburg,” Kevin Hawkins says. “Being charitable is very important to him. But, for him, it’s not about leaving a legacy behind. The legacy is the people who are touched along the way.”
About the Belcher Award
For decades William S. “Bill” Belcher—the first All Children’s Hospital Chairman of the Board— was a tireless advocate for the hospital and its patients. The Belcher Award was created upon his death in 1992 to honor his legacy of leadership, commitment and passionate advocacy in the name of our patients. It is the highest honor awarded by the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Foundation.