Family Success Center in Gadsden is an Alabama Bright Light

Family Success Center in Gadsden is an Alabama Bright Light
Lisa Brown, financial stability coach at Family Success Center, stands in the organization's food closet. (contributed)

If you live in the Gadsden area and need help, there is a place that can provide answers: the Family Success Center.

“Family Success Center is a one-stop resource center in Etowah County,” said Executive Director Emma Hazlewood Clapp. “Anyone who needs help can come to us and have access to multiple different services in one place.”

The mission of the Family Success Center is to strengthen families in Etowah County by providing strategies for financial stability, emotional health and nonviolence.

“If someone was coming in to get financial stability coaching and we find out they are having issues with domestic violence, we can just walk them around the corner and get them the help that they need,” Clapp said. “We have 12 programs in-house that all work together to make families stronger. Stronger families mean less abuse in the home.”

The vision for the Family Success Center came together 19 years ago when a few leaders in Etowah County saw the need for a social and family services center. Clapp and her staff serve anyone who seeks their help.

Family Success Center in Gadsden is an Alabama Bright Light from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

“We operate outside of Etowah County, as well. About 80% of our clients are moderate- to low-income. We have no expectations. Anybody can just walk in the door and receive help,” Clapp said.

Clapp and her staff rely on grants and funding from different organizations. The Alabama Power Foundation continues to be one of those supporters.

“We are grateful to the Alabama Power Foundation for their help, especially when we first opened 19 years ago,” Clapp said. “The Alabama Power Foundation continues to provide support in different ways.”

Support from the foundation and others translates into the plethora of programs the Family Success Center provides, from financial stability to child abuse prevention to family counseling to maternity care.

Continuing its mission of helping folks in Etowah County, the staff has adjusted to the COVID-19 crisis.

“The COVID-19 health pandemic has affected how we do things. We may have our lobby closed but we still serve all of our clients. We do a lot of Zoom and video chat calls, and we practice social distancing and wearing masks and all the ways we have to operate now during COVID-19. Our aim will not change; we want to help the families in Etowah County,” Clapp said. “When COVID first hit, I must have sat in 20 different front yards helping people figure out their budgets.”

The social justice movement sweeping the country has not caused the staff at the Family Success Center to veer from its mission and vision.

“Especially during this time of racial injustice all over the country and in our community, we are open to helping anyone who needs assistance. If you need help, come see us. If you need mental health counseling, come see us. If you need budgeting help, come see us,” Clapp said. “We are tackling the issues nobody wants to tackle and we’re doing it for free, and we help all people.”

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Alabama Bright Lights captures the stories, through words, pictures and video, of some of our state’s brightest lights who are working to make Alabama an even better place to live, work and play. Award-winning journalist Karim Shamsi-Basha tells their inspiring stories. Email him comments, as well as suggestions on people to profile, at [email protected].

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