It's been a rough couple of months for the Hawkins family of Le Roy.
Lori Hawkins, after 32 years working for area dairy farmers hasn't been unable to find a job. On Sept. 5, her second-oldest son, Mike Burrs, died at age 31 after a lifetime battle with a congenital heart disorder.
Now her 25-year-old son, Nick A. Hawkins, is charged with robbery, accused of handing a demand note to the cashier at the Five Star Bank branch in Pavilion last Monday. He is in Genesee County jail being held on $25,000 bail.
We first met Lori Hawkins at a dairy rally at Dale Stein's farm organized by Assemblyman Steve Hawley. She showed up with a cardboard sandwich sign that read "Exp. milker 4-hire. Unemployment benefits denied. Labor dept. not much help. Can you afford to hire me? I want to work!"
So far, Hawkin's efforts to land a job haven't panned out.
Hawkins said she knows how to milk cows, care for calves, administer medication and do any of the tasks associated with being a dairy farm hand. But her experience doesn't seem to matter much these days.
"Now they're hiring Mexicans," Hawkins said. "I'm 50 years old. They look at me and I think they think I'm too old. I don't know what they are thinking."
Hawkins is the mother of four children, but she said Nick is always the one she had trouble with. School counselors advised her when he was young that Nick might be borderline ADD (Attention-deficit disordered). She said he's never been properly checked out, but wonders if he might be bipolar or have obsessive-compulsive disorder.
"When he was younger, he would always act out and then regret it later," Hawkins said.
Nick Hawkins has a criminal history that Lori said started when he was a teenager. At 14 or 15, he he was accused of stealing a bike.
She said Nick was on probation from 2002 to 2007 for stealing a four-wheeler, plus she's heard of various petty crimes.
"I'm sure he's done stuff that I don't even know about," she said.
Lori said she last saw her son one evening last week and they watched TV together.
"It (news of the bank robbery) was a shock to me," she said. "I didn't even know about it."
She said Nick has no stable work history. He learned welding at BOCES and has some dairy farm experience ("I taught him how to milk cows," she said), but he never seems to be able to hold a job.
"I don't know if he develops an attitude problem or what," she said.
The death of Mike Burrs has been hard on the entire family, Hawkins said, and there's been some dispute over what to do with Mike's belongings, which includes a snowmobile and a dirt bike. Nick didn't want his grandmother to sell those items, Lori said, and the issue upset him.
"Since his brother died five weeks ago, I've been telling him he should go to counseling," Lori said. "But he's 25 years old. He's not going to listen to what his mother tells him to do."