MATTHEWS – The Matthews Heritage Museum has extended its exhibit on the history of the Matthews HELP Center from where it all started to where it is today.
Barbara Taylor, who directs the museum, said she found everything she could to convey the HELP Center’s 40-year history of easing local poverty.
At the exhibit, visitors can see fliers, photographs, old guest books and more from the original Matthews HELP Center, which was first located at 224 W. John St.
A hand-drawn flier from the center’s early years shows it was only open on Mondays from 1 to 4 p.m. and had representatives from accounting aid, social services, the council on aging and social security. The original center also had a clothing closet, which the current center still offers today in the form of a thrift shop.
The organization then relocated to the Clark House, which is now the Matthews Heritage Museum. A photo shows the outside of the house. It still has its yellow and green exterior today. The exhibit also shows a newspaper clipping that says Sam’s Club donated $500 toward the center’s relocation fund in 2002. When it opened, it was known as “The House with a Heart.” It is still referred to by that name today.
After relocating to the Clark House, the center was able to offer more services, including crisis assistance, referral services, community connection, health-related services, food and nutrition assistance and specialized funds.
Another section of the exhibit shows some of the fundraising efforts of the Matthews HELP Center. Visitors can see an original program for the “Sweet on Matthews,” a show put on in partnership with Matthews Playhouse of the Performing Arts that included a dessert tasting and silent auction. The center also released a “Recipes to Remember” cookbook, put on an art show and sale, sold snow cones at Matthews Alive and hosted yard sales and fashion shows.
“It’s really amazing what they did without any federal funding,” Taylor said.
The HELP Center celebrated the groundbreaking on its current Amos Street location on Sept. 13, 2003. Now, 17 years later, the site has expanded and the center continues to help many families in the Matthews area.
Want to go?
The Matthews Heritage Museum is open from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Thursday to Saturday at 232 N. Trade St. Admission costs $4 for adults, $2 for ages 10 to 17 and free for under 10. Admission is free on the first Saturday of the month. Tours are available by appointment. 704-708-4996.