September 26, 2021

2021 Community Improvement Initiative Grant Recipient: The NEIGHB

When news began to spread that closure was imminent for a longtime community anchor, The Neighborhood House Community Center also known as Samaritas, a local grassroots group of inspired individuals joined together to purchase, preserve, and restore the center.


The Neighborhood House Community Center, located at 3145 Russell St. in Saginaw, traces its roots back to the mid- to late-1930s and was owned and operated by Lutheran Charities. The Center thrived as a hub for the neighborhood it served, especially between 1964-1997 under the direction of Ray Culpepper.


“It was a staple in the community for years and even my dad grew up going there. It was just that place where everybody in the neighborhood could go. They had plenty of sports, fun after-school programs, different types of activity programs, they had a library and you could play ping pong there as well,” said Ray Jones, Board member of The NEIGHB. “It was a safe haven. Once you went there, and your parents knew that you were there, they didn’t worry about it. Everybody looked after everybody and it was more like a family atmosphere.”


As closure of facility by the current owners was becoming a reality, nine local individuals, who as children benefited from the programs and services at The Neighborhood House Community Center while growing-up, banded together to purchase the facility in 2020.


Now known as The NEIGHB, the organization has a goal to not only preserve the facility, but to bring back programming and services.


“With that said, we understand that this is not 1982, or even 1995. So, things are not going to be exactly the same, but we want to duplicate that as much as possible. We want to bring that feeling back of what we experienced, along with a bit of new flavor, because kids today are completely different from most of us who are now in our 50s and above,” said Jones. “That’s what we’re basically trying to bring back, and also bring safe haven back as well.”


As the recipient of the 2021 $25,000 SCF Board of Directors’ CII Grant, The NEIGHB will use the grant dollars to make needed improvements to the facility. These improvements include  upgrades to the gymnasium facilities with two new basketball backboards and two sectional bleachers. Additionally, the grant dollars will used for basic infrastructure needs that will allow the facility to restart services and to purchase tables and chairs that will serve multiple purposes with programming events.


If The NEIGHB is able to fundraise an additional $25,000 within the next year, they will receive an additional grant of $5,000 from SCF.


“We want The Neighborhood House to be like a hub for the city, so we need to get everybody in the community behind us. We think of the effect as like ripples in water. We hope to be the big rock that’s fallen in still water that gives a ripple effect,” said Jones. “It’s already started and we are excited to see where it goes.”


For more information about The NEIGHB, visit