The words on the citation presented to the small, soft-spoken youngster by the Garfield-Douglas Heights Civic Association belied the notion that he was a shy little boy.
"Although Melvin Knight is only 10 years old he is well known in his Stanton (Southeast area) dwellings for assisting people in trouble and helping to detect crime regardless of personal risk," the citation said.
In 1977 Knight, a student at Anacostia's Malcolm X School, volunteered information to the police about a crime he witnessed from his home.
"Some guys came around and threatened him. Some others called him a 'squeal,' said the boy's grandmother, Georgia Knight. "I was scared. But to him, it didn't mean anything."
A suspect was arrested and recently convicted because of Knight's testimony, according to civic association president Gladys General. In January, Knight was given a certificate of merit and honored for his cooperation by the Seventh Police District.
"Since then, I just watch for things while I'm outside playing," Knight said, only after being prodded to talk about the incident.
He recently was awarded the first prize "Mary V. Lewis Community Service Award" at a civic association luncheon at St. Philips Episcopal Church last weekend. City Council member Wilhelmina Rolark (D-Ward 8) presented a $100 savings bond to Knight. Savings bonds of $50 and $25 were awarded to second and third place winners Rodney Daniels and Tracie Sandifer, respectively.
Daniels, a sixth grader at Green School, was recognized for his work as captain of the safety patrols there. Situated at the busy intersection of 15th Street and Minnesota Avenue SE, the school has no police crossing guard, accroding to General. So, Daniels insisted on continuing his daily patrol duties - directing students across the street, supervising other patrols - eveen after he broke his left leg in a football game recently.
Asked to explain why he did not just retire early from the force, Daniels said simply, "I've been a patrol for three years."
"Art is a hobby. I want to be a nurse," Tracie Sandifer said. An honor student at Garfield School, Sandifer received her award for the poster she made for the Community Law Fair held downtown in Judiciary Square last month. Created on dark red paper, the poster says, "Read Your Warranty" as a food mixer, with a barely visible warranty label, explodes off the paper.
The annual awards are presented to one or more youths who live in the Garfield-Doughlass Heights area, running east from 14th Street and Mississippi Avenue to 25th Street and Alabama Avenue SE. The three winners were selected from applications made by students or nominations by schools, churches and recreation centers.
The awards are named in memory of Mary V. Lewis, who helped organize the civic association after she moved to the Garfield community in 1901. Lewis was a community activist who worked to establish educational, civic and charitable programs for her neighbors.
During the luncheon, Sonya Bennett and Dietra Brown read from the works that won them prizes in the recent citywide poetry contest in honor of the International Year of The Child.
Brown, a third grader at Moten School, said in her poem, "Feelings," that she sometimes feels mad, glad, happy and scared. She ended it quickly, saying, "See I am a child. And I have feelings." CAPTION: Picture, Wilhelmina J. Rolark with, from left, Rodney Daniels, Melvin Knighy and Tracie Sandifer. By Craig Herndon - The Washington Post