Name: Emma Hazlewood
Where were you born and raised?
I was born in Florence, Alabama. However, my family moved a lot when I was younger. The majority of my younger years were spent in Hanover Park and Gifford/Rantoul, Illinois. We moved to Gadsden to finish out high school and though I’ve moved away since then, I have come back to what I now consider to be my home.
What is your occupation?
“I work at the Family Success Center in Gadsden. I work as a Financial Stability Coach, a parent educator in the Helping Our Moms Excel (H.O.M.E. program), as well as an educator with the Alabama Healthy Marriage & Relationship Education Initiative. So basically, I’m a community teacher. I teach classes all over the community. I am also the facilitator of the Safe Sleep Grant in Etowah County for this year and next. But, I also work as an Adjunct Instructor at the University of North Alabama in the Sociology and Family Studies Department.”
What made you decide to work in your field?
“I knew that I wanted to help people, and when you start deciding what type of field you want to go into, you find all of the different areas and different ways to help people. What I’ve discovered is, educating people is a passion of mine. Frankly, all of the lessons I teach, I wish there was someone there to teach me. And if I can help any one person to avoid making some of the mistakes I’ve made or watched other people make, then count me in.”
Tell us about your family and pets.
“I am married to Bart Clapp, who is an ICU nurse at Gadsden Regional. We have three kids between us. Jonathan and William Hazlewood are our 18-year old special need twin boys. Daniella Clapp is my almost 23-year old step daughter. I also have Robin Klemm and Adam Hyde, who are practically like family and help us tremendously with the boys. I also have two dogs, Merlin and Baxter.”
What school or schools have you attended?
“I attended high school at Rantoul Township High School in Rantoul, Illinois and Gadsden High School here in Gadsden. For my higher education, I went to Gadsden State Community College and Jacksonville State University. I eventually decided on a career change and went back to college at the University of North Alabama. I earned a Bachelor’s in Sociology and my Master’s Degree in Family Studies and became a Certified Family Life Educator (CFLE) through the National Council of Family Relations.”
What do you like to do in your free time?
“Besides spending time with my family and friends? I read. A lot. I love watching movies and listening to music or playing music. But these days, I just read.”
What would you say is your greatest accomplishment?
“Finishing school again, paying off all of my debt so I could buy a house by myself and keeping my promise to my kids that I would show them as much as I possibly could. I think I’m keeping that promise so far.”
Name the one person that has been the most influential in your life. Why?
“There is not just one person, there are many. But if I had to pick, I’d pick my sons, Jonathan and William. Their struggles have been some that most grown adults could never handle and they always manage to do it all with a smile on their face and laughter in their eyes. I’ve wanted them to have the best life possible that I could give them. Everything I’ve done, I’ve done for them.”
To what do you credit your success?
“Dedication and a lot of hard work. I knew that I wanted to better the lives of others but I was not sure how I would go about doing that. When I finally figured out that this was a calling for me, I wanted those around me to see, that no matter how hard it is, you can accomplish anything.”
Are you involved in any service organizations?
“I am on the board of Mental Health America and the Easter Seals, which allows me to give back to the community. I am also on the Executive Board of the Children’s Policy Council of Etowah County. We get to do a great many things with this organization. However, my own personal project is the “Night for Our Stars Special Needs Prom.” We are going into our third year! This is an event that is free to any special needs individual over the age of 13 or 14 and their families. We’ve given out dresses to the girls the past two years and at this past prom, we had almost 200 special needs individuals and about 400 in total at Convention Hall partying the night away! It is an event that I would not be able to do without the help and support of this community.
What is your favorite thing about this community?
“I love the way that this community will rally around something they believe in. A good example of that would be the special needs prom. Every person we asked contributed something. People came out in droves to help. It does your heart good to see so many people wanting to make one-night special for someone else. I love that you can approach someone with an idea and they will make it happen. Just like Ada Woodard of Gadsden Premiere Cinemas jumping on board with the Sensory Friendly Movies when I asked. People want to help each other. I respect that.”
What would you like to see change in the community?
“I have a lot of answers for this question, so I will narrow it down. I would like to see more family-friendly events in this community. I’d also love to see more for our special needs individuals to do. A sports league would be amazing. I’d also love to see better opportunities for young people come our way. Keeping the kids busy and safe would go a long way to keeping them away from the bad things.”
What is something surprising that many do not know about you?
“That I almost failed out of high school my freshman year. Oh, and that I can play almost every instrument, except the banjo. I have no idea how to play the banjo. But everything else? Yep.”
What is your favorite quote?
“Even if you fall flat on your face, you are still moving forward.” – Victor Kiam.
What is on your bucket list?
“My bucket list is pages long. I have managed to mark so many great things off of it, but I still have a few that I hope to do before my time is up. I would love to do a Jane Austen book tour in England with my best friend Robin. I’d love to take Bart to Italy. But some bucket list items are personal and silly to many people so I will keep those to myself.”
What advice would you give yourself as a child?
Be strong. You will be encountering some extremely difficult moments in your future. But those things will shape you into who you will ultimately become. So be patient, never give up and know that you will not be broken. Oh, and Google, invest early. You will thank me later!
If you would like to nominate someone for the People of Etowah column, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 256-547-1049.