Back on Her Feet, Thanks to Iona

May 3, 2022

Ann Hawkins. An older woman in a red coat and hat with a blue scarf and gray pants smiles and looks at the camera with her hands in her pockets. Ann Hawkins, 81, has had a hand in some of Washington, DC’s most famous attractions as a self-employed designer and carver of stone inscriptions. Her work can be found on several major memorials, such as the Japanese American Memorial, and inside public buildings like the U.S. Supreme Court Building and the National Gallery of Art.

To supplement her income, Ann also rented rooms in her home to visiting researchers from the Carnegie Institution for Science and the Kennan Institute. “I’ve had visitors from at least 60 countries,” she says.

But when the pandemic hit, Ann’s income dried up. Her projects at DC institutions were put on hold, and it was no longer safe to welcome lodgers.

Ann went online to file for lost wages assistance and became overwhelmed. “I couldn’t deal with the complexity of the applications,” she remembers. “I tried three or four times, was repeatedly rejected, and just gave up.”

Then Ann remembered Iona and called the Helpline, which connected her to Care Manager Liza Chapkovsky. “She was like a gift from heaven,” says Ann. “Liza is calm, caring, and competent, and she knows the ropes.”

Liza helped Ann fill out the application for loss of wages, which required dozens of pages of documentation. The process made Ann realize just how financially vulnerable she was. “I had been thinking that I would have to leave the house,” she says. “I could no longer keep up with monthly expenses.”

To help Ann get by in the meantime, Liza assisted her in applying for a SNAP card for groceries and connected her to a program that would allow her to keep her health insurance.

After a couple of weeks, Ann received news that her application had been accepted, and the benefits were retroactive to the beginning of the pandemic.

Today, she is on better financial footing—all thanks to Iona. “I couldn’t be more positive about Iona,” Ann says. “Liza saved me.”