Photo courtesy of Family Success Center
By Emma Kirkemier, Staff Correspondent
The Etowah County Family Success Center is holding a free event next Saturday, July 25, to encourage families to complete the census, get registered to vote and give blood.
The event, which will be held from noon to 3 p.m., is called “Be Counted, Be Heard and Give Back.” It will be held outside, in the parking lot of the Family Success Center located at at 821 East Broad Street. Volunteers will be grilling hot dogs and providing water to attendees for free.
“I couldn’t think of a better title [to describe our purpose for this event] other than ‘Be Heard, Be Counted and Give Back,’” said FSC Executive Director Emma Hazlewood Clapp. “I was like, ‘Those are all the things that we’re trying to do by even hosting it.’”
Clapp described the importance of encouraging Etowah County families to “use their voice.” More households filling out the 2020 Census, she explained, brings more federal funding into Etowah County, and voting is just as crucial.
“It being a very volatile moment, we really want to encourage them to use their voice to vote; that way they can actually be heard,” Clapp said. “If they want to bring about change, that’s how they’re going to do it.”
Clapp said that attendees will be able to receive a free voter ID card if they do not have a driver’s license, and families do not need to have the household identification number on their census, as volunteers will be able to assist them in filling out the census without it.
The third aspect of the event, “Give Back,” refers to the opportunity for attendees to give blood. LifeSouth Community Blood Centers will be conducting a mobile blood drive at the event, as well as screening donors for COVID-19 antibodies. This screening, which Clapp said normally costs $160, will be conducted for free at the event, and donors can also have their cholesterol checked.
According to the LifeSouth website, “The test is authorized by the FDA and detects if you have developed antibodies to COVID-19. The antibody test is not a diagnostic test and will not indicate if you currently have COVID-19.”
LifeSouth asks that those who are currently exhibiting symptoms of coronavirus do not donate blood. Clapp also encouraged potential attendees to wear a mask to the event, saying that all volunteers will be wearing masks and that additional masks will be provided to attendees without them.
Clapp emphasized the fact that families can make an impact in their state and their community by filling out the census and by voting, but also by donating blood.
“All the blood that they (LifeSouth) get in Alabama stays in Alabama,” Clapp said. “They are the sole providers for many hospitals, and they provide for our hospitals as well. So if you’ve already registered to vote or if you’ve already filled out your census, then you can still give back to your community because of what’s happening right now.”
Clapp said that this is not a fundraising event. The goal of this event is “solely to give back to Etowah County and to the city of Gadsden,” she said, and she believes that the FSC has found effective ways to do so.
“If nothing else, we’ll just feed some people that day,” Clapp said. “But I’m hoping we’ll get some people to come and register to vote and fill out their census.”
Clapp defined the FSC’s mission as “helping families become more successful and by doing so … lessen(ing) the amount of child abuse that happens.” She described the services that the center offers, services that have remained as accessible as possible with social distancing restrictions.
The FSC offers 12 different programs in house, Clapp said, including “a free family counselor who still sees people, a financial stability coach whose job is to help people figure out their money and their budgets … parenting classes, relationship classes” and more.
The FSC currently serves as a Hydration Station, which Clapp defined as a modified version of Etowah County’s usual cooling stations. Cooling stations, now called Hydration Stations, are opened throughout Etowah County during weeks with extreme temperatures, allowing people to get water and cool down.
“We’re doing East Gadsden’s,” Clapp said. “So anybody can come off the street, cool off, get some water, have a snack, use the bathroom, charge their phones.”
The FSC will be functioning as a Hydration Station until the day of their event, July 25.
For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/FamilySuccessCenter35903/.