CHARLOTTE, N.C. - On Monday afternoon, residents of Grier Heights gathered for their 50th annual Grier Heights Labor Day reunion celebration.
The festivities included a parade, food and music -- but there was another reason to celebrate as well: The opening of the neighborhood's first and only community center -- a project that has been five years in the making.
"We believe this community center will be the nucleus of the community, which will allow people to move forward in their lives," said Jonathan Belton, the director of the Grier Heights Community Center.
The GHCC building is a 1927 schoolhouse which was refurbished to serve as a community center. It will have a computer lab, library and a food pantry. It will also host job search programs, literacy programs for adults and children and afterschool events.
"I think it's an asset for our community to have to keep our kids from getting out of trouble," said Kathy Hayes, who lives in the neighborhood. "Just having somewhere where they can go would be good because there is nowhere for them to go here."
Neighbors told Channel 9 the GHCC comes at a time when it feels like the community is improving and progressing. They hope the center will help Grier Heights form a new image.
"We're on the backside of really recovering and beginning to see things happen across the board that are going to be better," said Belton. "This center is going to add to that. A lot of times, all you hear is about the negative parts of the community, but this is a long strong proud community."
The funding for the GHCC came from several corporate donors. Belton said they all have a vision of making the Grier Heights community a better place.