Community Awareness Award
Daniel A. Anderson, The Orange County Register

selected from the story "Loss of Hope: Motel Children"

In one of the richest counties in America, children live cramped in drug-infested, crime-ridden poverty in motel rooms that once were overnight destinations for tourists visiting Disneyland and other southern California attractions. Now families of six and even more, often representing three generations, cram together in single rooms of residential motels. This story was told from the perspective of these motel children. An outpouring of community support and nearly 1,000 calls and letters to Project Dignity, the major support network for these families, has led to increased awareness and programs of help for these children. "These children are consumed 24 hours a day with poverty--and it's not just financial," said Linda Dunlap, who heads Project Dignity. "It's spiritual and emotional. They didn't just decide one day they were going to surrender their spirits. They did it to survive."



Abandoned shopping carts in a rain-soaked parking lot become dragons and pirate ships. Motel children make up for their lack of playthings with their imagination.











Children having children starts the cycle that is hard to break, even for the strong ones that manage to retain their spirit after growing up in the motels.











In her own world, Angelica rocks out to music. Her brother, Jeffrey, gets help with his homework. Because they don't have rooms of their own, motel children create their own "space."