MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Bickford Community Center is a safe space for residents in the historically overlooked neighborhood of North Memphis.
“I’m 75-years-old. To have something to look forward to from day to day...It keeps a lot of depression away, a lot of sadness because I’m happy when I’m up here,” said Elaine Johnson, a senior who spends every morning at the center.
A resident of North Memphis, Johnson has experienced the community's issues first hand. She says the area used to be like "tombstone territory" and that her house was shot into 15 times.
Johnson and other members of the community go to Bickford Community Center to escape the stressors surrounding them.
Nestled in Bickford Park off Henry Avenue, Bickford Community Center is where Hope Church runs a ministry: Oasis of Hope.
Sports Manager for Oasis of Hope, Josiah Taylor, works with youth at the center. Taylor takes the name "Oasis of Hope" literally—describing the center as a place of refuge for North Memphis residents.
“We have a safe haven for kids, for adults, for seniors in areas that have been forgotten about in Memphis, an area that some may consider dry,” Taylor said.
“This is a safe place, yes, but it’s not the reality that they deal with every day. I want them to have tools to be able to leave these walls and know how to talk to people, know how to engage with people, know how to have empathy and compassion.”
Elaine Johnson is eager to spread that compassion to youth in the community.
“We are seniors and we have made it through a lot of things. I think when people see us, they have a little hope especially young people who really feel like they’re not going to make it.” Johnson said.
Taylor shares that sentiment in his involvement with the center.
“A lot of kids don’t know what it’s like to engage with a loving adult who’s worked through their own childhood traumas, who has been able to love them fully and wholeheartedly.”
If you'd like to support Oasis of Hope and the Bickford Community Center, join ABC 24 and Hope Church in volunteering at the center this Saturday, June 16 from 10 a.m. to noon.
For more information on how to sign up for Go & Do Events, visit the Go & Do website.