When I was pregnant with our daughter I loved sorting through thousands of names to find the perfect name. I’ve always loved names and their meanings, so getting to pick a name for another human being wasn’t something we took lightly. We had a few criteria to start with:
1) Easy to spell
2) Easy to pronounce
3) Not too common
4) Not totally unknown or out there
5) Something with meaning.
We poured through every name book and website we came across and found many beautiful names that fit all the categories, but number 5 was a tricky one. At first I was thinking the original name meaning (ex: Susan means Lily of the Valley), but nothing really spoke to me, so we started looking at other things. What was meaningful to us? A family name? Something to remind us of where we grew up?
We had a few family names, but then crossed them off the list. Then we started thinking about our heritage. We both grew up in North Carolina, so we thought perhaps Charlotte or Carolina, but neither one really resonated with us until one day it hit me. Hazelwood. I went to Hazelwood Elementary, and my first job was at the Hazelwood Ingles.
Hazel. It’s a beautiful name, and has so much meaning for me. Josh didn’t mind it either, as he knew how much it meant to me, and it’s right near where we lived as newlyweds. It fit all the categories perfectly, and the name just spoke to us. Two and a half years later I have zero doubt that it was the perfect name for our little girl. It’s kind of comical that we wanted a name with meaning, and the root of her name just refers to the Hazel tree. Nothing too spectacular, but the meaning to me means a happy childhood, carefree summers, making paper airplanes with my cousin, flying tissue paper hot air balloons over my elementary school, and walking a mile after school every day to get to my mom’s work because it was just that safe.
Yesterday I watched proudly as the local news covered a story in my hometown. Ty Pennington teamed up with Guaranteed Rate and is helping turn the old Hazelwood Prison into a halfway house, soup kitchen, and homeless shelter. They’d won the Ultimate Neighborhood Give Back Challenge to transform a neighborhood project, which meant that Ty would come help out, and $50,000 would be given to the project! In a town where the average male makes $26,000 a year, that is a huge blessing. Stories are popping up, too, like the volunteer who used to be an inmate at the prison, but has now turned his life around and wants to help others do the same.
Seeing good things happen makes my heart happy. I love that town. The old prison is right next door to my first job. It’s an area where people work hard and are thankful for what they have. I can’t wait to see all the good that will come out of there– all the hope that will fill that place. And I have to admit, it will be really weird to not see those prison fences there anymore. But that is, after all, their slogan. #teardownthesefences
If you feel so led, I noticed that they have a registry for needed items on their website. The cheapest items are around $1, so there’s definitely something in your price range if you’re interested in helping out!