Johnny Hawthorne grew up in Macons Unionville community and still spends a lot of his time repairing rental homes in the neighborhood and helping youths. Hes spent 15 years coaching kids in basketball and football.
Youve got a lot of athletes over there, a lot of smart kids that dont make it out because of where theyre from, he said. There are a lot of kids that try hard to make it out, try hard to do better for their community.
Hawthorne said he is most frustrated by misconceptions others have of Macon and the lack of programs to address truancy and gang problems before they become an issue.
Ive got a lot of friends on the Macon Police Department, older guys, he said. And they know these areas a lot. I feel like the younger guys on the police department thats coming in, theyre not really familiar with the area and they get a bad misconception about, Watch out for this area. And thats why a lot of people get to not liking the police ahead of time.