FSC brings money to special program

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By Lindsey Frazier, Editorial Assistant

Mullet, Mayhem and Murder is a dinner event hosted by the Family Success Center where you are part of the show and potentially a victim. When attendees purchase tickets for $50, they are assigned a character, a backstory and costume ideas. Taivas Farms, located at 1713 Green Valley Rd. Glencoe, has donated its venue to the Family Success Center for the event on Saturday, August 19 at 5 p.m.
“Taivas Farms has been incredible to work with,” said Family Success Center’s Resource Development Director Katie Bohannon. “They were so thrilled just to even be a part of this. It’s been phenomenal to work with them.”
According to Family Support Center Director Emma Hazlewood-Clapp, the event provides support to a part of the community that is sometimes left out of the typical funding opportunities.
“It [the special needs community] is oftentimes a forgotten population and overlooked,” she said. “I don’t want them to feel that way. I want them to feel like their quality-of-life matters to us and their parents.”
The proceeds from this event will go to the Family Success Center’s IN Program. IN stands for Inclusive Needs, which provides medical equipment for special needs children, adolescents and teens. According to Hazlewood-Clapp, what is often “medically necessary” according to the insurance company leaves a lot lacking for the quality of life.
“As a mom of special needs kids, I myself understand how hard it is to get insurance to pay for anything,” she said. “Just to get an adaption for a wheelchair enough to help them sit up straight may not be considered insurance worthy, but it can also cost a family $1,000.”
Last year Family Support Center received a grant from Honda allowing FSC to start the IN Program. The center knew the funding was only a one-time deal, and for Hazlewood-Clapp, that was not enough.
“We have bought standers and adaptive car seats and helmets and vests, all kinds of things for kids around the community,” she said. “We sent a bunch of kids to camp ASCCA [Alabama’s Special Camp for Children and Adults]. It’s probably the most rewarding program. We hold support groups for parents and caregivers, and we just were not ready to say goodbye to it.”
Camp ASCCA, located in Jackson’s Gap, Alabama, provides people with special needs the opportunity to experience activities they never would have been able to otherwise. For a week the campers spend time with people who completely understand what they are going through, to experience things they did not think were possible. According to Hazlewood-Clapp, it changed the way she felt about the capability of her children.
“I can say camp ASCCA changed our lives,” she said. “It gave us the chance to realize that these kids can do all these things. My son was ziplining. They hoisted him up out of a wheelchair and threw him down a mountain.”
Hazlewood-Clapp said for families with special needs children it’s often difficult just to get out in public
“You know that you’re going to get stares and comments and we have to break that mold,” she said. “They are human and normal just like us, it just may be different.”
Hazlewood-Clapp believes the best way to normalize the differences is through conversation. Teaching our children from the beginning that some people are different instead of waiting until they are confronted with it directly. Honest communication and not being afraid to ask questions is vital in bridging the gap among the special needs community and the Family Success Center hopes that not only will this event raise money but serve as a spark for such conversations.
“We still treat it as if it’s taboo,” said Hazlewood-Clapp. “We have to tiptoe around it because we don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings, and our feelings are already hurt enough as it is.
“My kids are 23 and they’ve never been invited to a birthday party, and that sucks,” Hazlewood-Clapp said. “But at the end of the day, the more we realize that everybody is just a person who wants to be accepted and loved despite of what their situation is in life, they’re homeless, or they’re addicts, or they have mental health issues or they are sitting in a wheelchair. They are all human. They all deserve love, and the sooner we can do that without judgment and fear, then the better off we’re going to be.”
The center has 36 programs designed to help families in every aspect of life. The FSC wants families to take advantage of all the available programs until there is no longer a need. There is a process of going through the finances of the recipients of the medical devices and services to ensure the need is there.
“It’s a full wraparound of services,” said Hazlewood-Clapp. “The families sit down with Lisa for this process, but that also opens the door for her to help with their budgets. There is probably grief present because this is not the way they thought life was going to be and are overwhelmed. So we put them in counseling for free. Then maybe there are problems in the relationship due to fighting about money. So now we enroll the parents into our relationship class which we pay to be a part of. And we’ve got parenting classes and kid’s counselors.”
According to Hazlewood-Clapp the mission of the Family Success Center is to focus on the long-term success of families, to help educate and advocate. Tackling issues such as trauma, mental health, relationships, children and finances creates a trickle-down effect improving the lives of everyone in the community. Although the money that purchases a ticket for Mullets, Mayhem and Murder will specifically go to the center’s IN Program, the awareness that this event will bring to the FSC and the programs available is instrumental.
“I want other people to realize that it’s normal to have your life turned upside down, and sometimes you do need help,” said Hazlewood-Clapp. “And this is where you can come.”

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