Neighborhood Christian Centers to expand with Collierville location

Neighborhood Christian Centers will open its 8th area location later this summer. Last year, the nonprofit service provider assisted 53,000 people in need across Shelby County.

The new center will target southeast Shelby County as it will be housed in St. Patrick Presbyterian Church on New Byhalia Road in Collierville. 

“Then we’ll be looking to see if we can find a partner to help us to find free space to open up,” said Ephie Johnson, Neighborhood Christian Centers president and CEO.

Johnson’s mother, Dr. JoeAnn Ballard, was chosen to lead Neighborhood Christian Centers at its inception in 1978. In addition to raising her own four children, Ballard and her husband, Monroe, were foster parents to 75 children, most of whom lived with the family for at least one year. To make room for so many children, they converted their two-bedroom home into a nine-bedroom home while working various jobs to cover the expenses.

Related: "Neighborhood Christian Center provides sustenance for Memphis' disadvantaged neighborhoods"

Since its founding, the nonprofit has helped guide countless Memphians toward stability and sustainability through programs like LoveBuilders, Women Empowered to Succeed, Early Childhood and Youth Empowered to Succeed.

The new Collierville location will join the nonprofit’s seven current locations, including Uptown/North Memphis, Binghampton, Orange Mound and Frayser.

“We have a lot of poverty moving toward or being repositioned in Hickory Hill, Cordova, and Fayette County. The poor are asking for services from the people in Collierville,” said Johnson.

“The issues are not necessarily that Collierville has poverty, it’s that people who are poor that are closer to that side of the city are accessing those people for help, and they’re not positioned for it or don’t have the relationships we’ve had with those people who have moved out of our care.”

The Orange Mound location is an all female facility. “We feed our women who graduate from our work-life programs through our My Cup of Tea social enterprise partnership,” said Johnson.

“Overall, we provide compassionate services and then empowerment programs where we do training for adults and youth in academics, reading comprehension, job readiness, financial literacy, conflict resolution–all of the different areas that most of those that we serve need most.”

She hopes to open the new location by August or September.

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Michael Waddell is a native Memphian who returned to Memphis several years ago after working for nearly a decade in San Diego and St. Petersburg, Fla., as a writer, editor and graphic designer. His work over the past few years has been featured in The Memphis Daily News, Memphis Bioworks Magazine, Memphis Crossroads, the New York Daily News and the New York Post. Contact Michael.