HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Jerome Wallace is this month's Neighborhood Hero. He's the founder of a local nonprofit, The Angela Claxton Foundation. And just like every neighborhood hero, he goes out of his way to serve the community. He does it all because he's been there before.
"I never thought I could pull something like this off. But as you can see we're here and it's not gonna stop." That's from Jerome Wallace. Earlier this month, he hosted his annual back to school bash.
Wallace has a heart for everyone, especially those in need. "I originally started it off to help battered women but it ended up growing because a lot of better women have kids." His acts of service to the community are about more than helping those in need. For him, it's personal. He says, "Angela Claxton is my mom. I started the foundation in honor of her. Her life was taken to domestic violence in 1993. my stepfather killed her."
This event deeply impacted Wallace and the loss of his mother caused him great pain.
"With my mom's situation, seeing that, I actually witnessed it and it did make me veer off, so I was a troubled youth." said Wallace, "And, you know, I ended up learning from my mistakes. and that's when I, you know, started the Angela Claxton foundation because I seen what I went through and I didn't want any other kids to go through what I went through."
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Through that pain he found inspiration Jerome and his wife Lavell both feel dedicated to be there for others.
"It's important to give back because I was once those little kids," said Lavell.
Jerome and Lavell also both believe it is important to help kids have someone to look up to.
"We didn't really have a lot of mentors. We didn't really have a lot of people that inspired us and, and brought us together as a community." said Lavell "So, what we wanted to do was just kind of bring the community back. We wanted to give back things that we weren't able to get when we were younger."
Same goes for Wallace's kindred spirit, Mike Reddick founder of another local nonprofit.
"That's what drove me and my wife, Tai to support Jerome and Lavell because we had those those issues growing up in life and we just wish we would have had someone there." said Reddick.
Jerome Wallace knows what it's like to have one of the most important people in his life taken away from him. He knows the pain another child would go through all too well. That's why he does it all and that's why he's this months neighborhood hero.
"You know, a hero comes in and they see a situation and they try to make it better and that's the way I think Jerome is actually doing it. That's why I love him and we have kindred spirits in doing that."