It was a sweltering 90 degrees when Ms. Hazelwood greeted me at the door of her airy 3 bedroom apartment. She sat at the window taking in the warm air and explained how hard it was to find a spacious place for her young family. This new home is her gem, and she’s proud.
Ms. Hazelwood spent a short 7 months in Hope Apartments. She would email her case manager daily with apartment listings, hoping that one of them would be her new home. “I didn’t want to be there; I couldn’t have guests. I had to find my own place," she joked.
In retrospect, Ms. Hazelwood explained, the experience at Hope conditioned her to be more responsible. “I learned that I really didn’t need many friends around, especially the bad influences. I’m in the house more often now, and I distance myself from those who aren’t good for me. “My kids loved Hope. They would participate in everything.” Ms. Hazelwood’s 3 children—ages 10, 8, and 5—enjoyed Play Night and the programs offered by Project Create the most. She still takes them back to Hope Apartments to visit staff. “My kids are very understanding. They don’t ask for too much. It’s why I try to do as much as possible for them.”
“I’m honest with them about what’s going on; I even talk to them about the bad things.” Ms. Hazelwood uses difficult conversations about her life learnings as lessons for her children. “My mom had me at 15. I wish she would have talked to me more so I could learn from her mistakes.” The determined mother promises when she begins working full time, she will be on the right track to managing her family’s financial needs and wants.
In March, Ms. Hazelwood entered a dental assistant program at Fortis College—a career-focused school that puts graduates on a fast track to employment. The financial aid office approved her for a loan that would cover her studies. Her placement test score put her well within range to pursue a dental hygienist career, but Ms. Hazelwood chose the dental assistant track. “I still want to have time for my kids.” The further education requirements would limit that precious time with her growing children.
Ms. Hazelwood has 12 weeks left in the program, which will be broken into two 6-week externships. She will officially graduate next June but is hopeful and determined to excel in her externships, which could result in a full-time job.
The kids are on summer vacation now, and Ms. Hazelwood has a short week-long break. She had been working so hard for the last few months. The studious mother decided to celebrate by taking the time to indulge in the summer sun.