To be invited to Washington, D. C. to meet Eleanor Roosevelt was a highly coveted honor—an honor bestowed upon Ruth L. Bennett, of Chester, PA—a pioneer who worked tirelessly in her community, on behalf of women and children.
Ruth L. Bennett’s vision and hard work supported the needs of young women and families in the early 1900s during the great migration of blacks to the north.
The now historic 1880-era Queen Anne house, founded by the “Ruth L. Bennett Improvement Club” in 1918, and the adjacent Wilson Memorial Nursery in 1929, was from its inception a safe haven; a home that provided protection and care. It can also boast of hosting Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on multiple occasions when King served as an assistant pastor and Sunday school teacher at Calvary Baptist Church where Bennett’s husband was a pastor.
In 2008 the site was established as the permanent home for The Nia Center, a nonprofit organization, founded in 2004 by Delores Freeman-Clybourn. Although the two buildings were still fixtures of pride in the community, they eventually fell into disrepair.
In 2012 PennDOT committed to a painstaking architectural restoration of both buildings, just completed this past June.
“Nia,” the center’s namesake, a Kwanzaa principle meaning “purpose”, draws strength from the past while building hope for the future. Carrying on Ruth L. Bennett’s legacy, Nia provides children and youth with educational, artistic, and cultural enrichment opportunities year round, in the form of pre-school outreach, after-school programs, the Will Trippley Tutoring Program, summer camps, internships for high school and college students, as well as senior services.
To celebrate the reopening of the historic Ruth L. Bennett properties, The Nia Center, located at 214 Reaney St., Chester, PA invited the public to an “Open House” on Friday, October 10, 2014 from 3 to 7 p.m. There were tours of the buildings, live jazz, a ribbon cutting, and refreshments.
Ruth L. Bennett would be proud of Nia’s founder, Delores Freeman-Clybourn and the Nia Center staff, whose same devotion and determination is transforming the lives of children, youth, and families through cultural and educational enrichment. Please join us in celebrating the reopening of these historic properties!
For more information regarding Ruth L. Bennett, email firstname.lastname@example.org.