On Jan. 29 I attended a benefit dinner for the Prince George's County Family Crisis Center. As I sat there looking around the room, it was suddenly brought home to me just where the county stands. The location itself, the Greenbelt Hilton, bespoke eloquently of the new reputation of the county. Five years ago it would have been difficult to imagine a Hilton in this location.

Then there was the occasion. Two men who are longtime residents of the county, John Rhodes and James Hubbard, were honored as the founders of the Family Crisis Center, a facility that houses female victims of spousal abuse. So much for the theory that the county is home only to redneck bullies!

The group that gathered to honor these two and to raise a significant amount of money for the shelter was even more reflective of Prince George's County in 1988. It was racially diverse -- white, black, Hispanic, Oriental. The comments during the roast demonstrated that these individuals have a longtime devotion to the betterment of Prince George's; it was not a roomful of transients who view residence in Prince George's as a steppingstone on the road to Montgomery County.

Prince George's never was the ugly stepsister, just as I suspected. The county has been Cinderella, needing only the opportunity to display the beauty and strength inherent in its diversity.