Rolling Hills community center opens to excitement
For years, Rolling Hills resident Ramona Hambrick has dreamt of having an on-site community center, a place where she and her neighbors could gather to fellowship and access learning resources that could change the trajectory of their lives for the better. She wanted it so badly that in 2010 she turned her own apartment into such a place, welcoming neighborhood children for tutoring sessions, enrichment activities, hot meals and even field trips.
Hambrick’s dream came true last week with the grand opening of the New Horizon Resource Center. Born of a collaborative effort that included the City of Winston-Salem, the Winston-Salem Police Department, Rolling Hills residents and other area partners, the Center houses a community computer lab and will soon offer a variety of free programs to residents.
“To me, this is like a vision that I had for this community that came true,” Hambrick told the dozens of residents and supporters in attendance at the Jan. 30 event. “This community center is going to be a positive influence in the community for all of us, resources where we can better our lives and uplift the community.”
Organizers gave Hambrick the honor of naming the center.
“I named it New Horizon because I want some new things to come out of Rolling Hills,” explained the longtime resident. “…I am so grateful. This is what I wanted. I wanted resources to come into the neighborhood. I’m just overwhelmed.”
City of Winston-Salem Community Assistance Liaison Tabetha Bailey worked closely with the residents of Rolling Hills to form a neighborhood association and the Center. Bailey said some residents expressed doubts about being able to effectively organize.
“I told you then, ‘All God needs you to do is take the first step and He’ll walk with you,’” Bailey said to the residents. “He did just that, and these are some of the fruits of your labor right here.”
The Center is among several recent upgrades at Rolling Hills, an apartment complex off New Walkertown Road which has garnered a reputation as a trouble spot. Residents say the criminal activity has declined, thanks to an increased police presence. Assistant Police Chief Alonzo Thompson, who was on hand for the opening, told the residents that police would continue to support their efforts to improve the neighborhood.
“We’re at your disposal, at your service to do whatever we can to make Rolling Hills a better community,” he said.
Forsyth Technical Community College, The Darryl Hunt Project for Freedom and Justice, Communities in Schools and The Josh Howard Foundation are among the agencies that have signed on to partner with the Resource Center. The Goler Institute for Development & Education (GIDE) Youth Education Academy ( YEA) will soon begin hosting an after school program for middle and high school students at the Center. Thirty-five Rolling Hills youth are already involved in an after school program that GIDE hosts at its Marshall Street headquarters, but the opening of the Center will allow GIDE officials to bring YEA to the students.
Rolling Hills resident Niya Thompson said she was excited about the Center’s opening. The Washington, D.C. native says she plans to take full-advantage of the amenities available there.
“It’s going to enhance (the community) a whole lot because they’re going to have GED classes down here and that’s exactly what some of these women need, and they also have computers where you can search for jobs. They need that too,” said the mother of three, who has called Rolling Hills home for the past three years.
Longtime Rolling Hills resident Teresa Archie remembers the days when Hambrick, who is affectionately known in the community as “Miss Pumpkin,” single-handedly started the ball rolling. Archie believes none of it would have come to fruition had it not been for Hambrick’s persistence.
“It’s been a long time coming and I’m just so happy,” Archie declared. “I was there when Miss Pumpkin first started an idea for this center. It finally came to pass and I’m so proud of her.”