Black History Month Feature: The Salvation Army CiVIC (Community Voices Impacting Change) Senior Center- New Walkertown Road

February is Black History Month! Each week, we will celebrate the rich local history and culture of long-time residents in our Place Matters footprint, including 13 historically black neighborhoods in northeast Winston-Salem. By sharing their stories, we hope to shed light on the importance of the fight for equity and strive to create communities where everyone has the resources, opportunities, and support they need to thrive.

The Women of The Salvation Army CiVIC Senior Center

Top center group shot (From left to right back: Barbara Smith, Renna Giles, Mary Oliver, Catherynn Scott, Mary Bullock Scott, Sandra Watson. Front left to right: Janet Washington,  Gwendolyn Goulbourne)

Ramsey, Timothy. “United Way highlights neighborhoods for Black History Month (part 3). The Chronicle, February 16, 2022.

For Black History Month, the United Way of Forsyth County is highlighting individuals in the communities involved in their “Place Matters” initiative. For this week, they have chosen to feature ladies from the Salvation Army Citadel Worship and Service Center on New Walkertown Road.

The CIVIC Senior Center was designed by and for seniors from the 13 Place Matters neighborhoods as a place where older adults can broaden their horizons daily through a multitude of activities. 

The ladies involved in the article are participants in the Salvation Army’s senior activities and were eager to share their thoughts on the neighborhood and the changes they have observed over the years.

Barbara Smith, Renna Giles, Mary Oliver, Catherynn Scott, Mary Bullock Scott, Sandra Watson, Janet Washington and Gwendolyn Goulbourne are frequent visitors to the Salvation Army Center. The ladies were interviewed by Regina Craven, director of strategic communications and public relations for the United Way of Forsyth County. The ladies gave a unique perspective of how the area has changed and progressed over the years.

*Barbara Smith is a Winston-Salem native who grew up off of Carver School Road. She is a graduate of Reynolds High School and attended Forsyth Tech. She is a retired med-tech at Homestead Hills.

*Renna Giles is originally from Walnut Cove and lives in Rural Hall. She worked in the school system for 42 years and retired five years ago. She was a teacher and taught elementary through high school, She is a graduate of the North Carolina A&T State University and Appalachian State University.

*Mary Oliver is from Winston-Salem and is a 1962 graduate of Carver High School. Oliver initially wanted to become a teacher while attending Winston-Salem State University, but ended up working for Western Electric for 30 years.

*Catherynn Scott is a native of Winston and grew up on North Patterson Avenue. She worked for Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center’s emergency room for 25 years and has been retired for the last 18 years. She just recently relocated back to Winston-Salem a year ago.

*Gwendolyn Goulbourne was born in Winston but moved to New Jersey at the age of eight. Gwendolyn worked for Merck Pharmaceutical for 25 years and also recently returned to Winston-Salem.

*Janet Washington was born in High Point and attended Andrews High School. She attended Winston-Salem State University and eventually joined the Air Force. She returned to Winston after leaving the Air Force.

The ladies had varied viewpoints of how the neighborhood has changed over the decades.

Smith says in her neighborhood, they used to be able to sit out on the porch and the community had a family atmosphere. They even left their doors unlocked at night. Now there is more crime and people don’t care about each other as much, she said.

When Oliver was a kid, she and her siblings would walk the surrounding area without any concerns because the neighbors would look out for you. Even as a young adult, that comfort level remained.

Washington remembers playing outside nonstop until the streetlights came on. She never worried about people messing with her because neighbors looked out for you and even disciplined you if needed. She says now you can’t say anything to parents or children when referring to respect or correcting children.

There were also some fond memories shared by the ladies as well.

There wasn’t much to do in Walnut Cove, so Giles and her family would commute to Winston-Salem on Saturdays to shop, visit friends and more.

Catherynn Scott remembers her father taking her to Winston Lake and going to the then Dixie Classic Fair. She grew up in Happy Hill Gardens. She fondly remembers going to Chars restaurant and when the city had the Safe Bus, Black taxi cabs and Black dry cleaners.

Even though some of the ladies have ventured out of the area, they eventually came back. They all commented that they were proud of where they were from and love what the area has to offer.

Oliver lived in Atlanta for six years but knew when she retired, she did not want to stay there forever because it was too fast paced. She feels you can do everything in Winston-Salem that you can do in Atlanta, but just on a smaller scale. She enjoys going to the senior center because they have so many activities to participate in. 

Washington says she is proud and thankful for her neighbors and church. Because she has had a stroke, things have drastically changed for her, even though she can still do many things on her own. She enjoys fellowshipping with her friends at the Salvation Army.

All of them believe that things in the neighborhood can and will get better.

Giles hopes that crime will go down. She feels the mayor, police department, and everyone else involved are working to improve that in the area.

She is pleased with how things are and has always felt like Winston was home.