With the help of her husband Dr. Regional Claypool Neblett, Mrs. Hattie Louise Neblett laid the groundwork for the H.L. Neblett Center in their basement. By 1936, they had established a permanent organization, initially operating as Community Recreation Council.
The Nebletts had only been in town 15 minutes when Dr. Neblett voluntarily served as a first responder for a gunshot victim. Mrs. Neblett was an elementary and home economics teacher who quickly recognized the need to provide a haven and programs for black youths to decrease juvenile delinquency in the community.
“The H.L. Neblett Community Center’s tagline is ‘Changing Lives in Changing Times,’” said Keith Cottoner, executive director of the center. “As the community around the Neblett Center has changed, we’ve continued to meet the needs. Our staff always shows up with a caring heart, willing to do what it takes to ensure the children we serve receive excellent care.”
The center’s initiatives are ever-growing and evolving, offering various services.
“We’re beginning to recruit families for our Strong African-American Families program, which builds on the strengths of African-American families and supports parents and youth during the transition from early adolescence to the teen years,” Cottoner said. “The program is research-based from the Center for Family Research department at the University of Georgia.”
The Western Academy at The Neblett is approaching 5 years of offering academic enrichment to African-American and Biracial males in grades 3 through 12. The program continues to grow and will have a grand opening soon to celebrate its new facility.
Cottoner said the center is partnering with the Black Expo to host a first-time homebuyer seminar at 6:30 p.m. on February 16. Guest speakers from Ruoff Mortgage and The Blake Hayden Group will be in attendance.
They also have a fish fry planned for February 24 to raise funds for STEM kits, flashcards, and sports equipment for children. The center also provides free mental health coaching to its youth members and has a parent appreciation night planned for the summer.
“On Thursday, June 8, we’re partnering with CASA of Ohio Valley to host our 2nd Annual Parent Appreciation night,” he said. “It’s a night to celebrate parents and inform them of the resources in the community available to them if needed. Last year we gave away four gift baskets, a $100 gift card, and provided dinner.”
Cottoner said they also host a mature adult program called Morning Joe on the second and fourth Tuesday of every month at 9:30 a.m. in the center’s cafeteria. They also offer free access to the fitness center on site.
“Short and long term, it’s our goal to continuously listen to the community members and see how the H.L. Neblett Community Center can actively meet their needs,” Cottoner said. “We will continue working to be at the forefront of meeting the needs of youth and adults in the community.”
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To learn more about becoming the Chamber Member of the Week or inquire about Chamber membership, contact Shelly Nichols, Chamber Vice President, at 270-926-1860 or [email protected].