History of the Henry Fork Service Center
The story of the Henry Fork Service Center starts with Charlotte Seegars.
Charlotte was a very small woman, but had a lot of faith and determination. She was sent to Franklin County, Virginia a General Board of Global Ministries Church and Community Worker. She began work in the community in Christian education. She assisted local churches in any way necessary, typing sermons and bulletins for many ministers and started many of the United Methodist Women units at local churches. Many of those churches still “claim” her as one of their own.
Charlotte became concerned about the large number of students dropping out of school. She rented a vacant service station, Henry Fork Service Center was started in 1967.
Charlotte Seegars saw many needs of the rural community about two miles south of Rocky Mount. Fighting, neglect, unemployment, broken homes, abuse, truancy, low incomes, illegitimacy and running moonshine were a few of the problems.
The program started with preschool children three mornings a week and after school activities three afternoons a week and quickly expanded to a five- day per week program. The service bay pit was filled in and the service bay was turned into a classroom. The building and a few acres were purchased.
The center was closed briefly after Charlotte Seegars retired due to illness. It reopened under the direction of two consecutive young Methodist missionaries (US-2s). In 1985, a full-time director, Julie Gibson, was hired and the center assumed responsibility for the operational costs. The program was expanded to include many of the current programs and services. Eventually, mission teams added two offices and two more classrooms to the service station building. This space quickly became too small due to the large numbers of children attending the Center.
Donna LaPrade became acting director when Mrs. Gibson moved. The center applied to the General Board of Global Ministries for another Church and Community Worker.
The Center continued to grow under the guidance of Susan Putnam who oversaw the building of the Pennel and Activity Buildings. Susan retired in December 2008 and currently resides in Birmingham AL
Lisa Nichols, Deaconess and Church and Community Worker, became Executive Director in January 2009. Lisa resigned in June 2019 after accepting a position with a project in Tennessee.
Jessica Hunt, a long-time employee of Henry Fork Center, acted as Interim Director after Lisa’s resignation and was named Executive Director in November 2019. The Center continues to reach out to the community through programs, recreation, and opportunities for education.