MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Every Tuesday as part of our Community Changers series, we highlight organizations making Memphis better. This week, we caught up with a group that believes in serving the whole family.

“This little, small yellow building, which is the brightest thing in this area, is the best thing that ever happened to this community,” said Barbara Nesbit, Director of Vance Avenue Youth Development Center.

Vance Avenue Youth Development Center, located in South Memphis, is a safe haven for kids after school. The doors are open to everyone ages four and up.

For the kids, their favorite thing to do is “lay on the trampoline, eat and see Ms. Barbara,” one child said. Another felt the same, saying, “I like the trampoline, and I love to see Ms. Barbara.”

Ms. Barbara has been cooking hot meals for students and adults since the mid-90s.

From the kids’ point of view, “She made it so kids can learn and play at the same time,” said fourth grader King Suggars.

That’s why you’ll see kids in their computer lab and outside on the swing set. And, of course, the famous trampoline.

Ms. Barbara knows how important the center is to the community. “They need a place to go. They need a safe haven. Too many children are dying on the street. We need to provide a safe place for the children.”

The moment you walk in, she’ll offer you food. She’ll want you to stick around to finish your homework. If you need school supplies, she’ll help with that, too. Help is also available for adults.

“In order to help you, we’ll help your family. Because we can’t say, ‘We’re not going to help the family– parent, grandparent or aunt/uncle.’ We will reach out and help the whole family ’cause we’re helping the child,” said Ms. Barbara.

That’s why Brown Missionary Baptist Church gifted Vance Avenue Youth Development Center $1,000 because the little yellow building truly helps the whole child– family and all.

A true community changer.  

For more information about Vance Avenue Youth Development Center, click here.