Two women, Sallie Sawyer and Estelle Haskins, met the needs of a community and its families. From this grew Bethlehem Centers of Nashville and this founding principle is still central to everything we do.
United Methodist Neighborhood Centers were established in 1894 to serve young mothers and children who were among the 30,000 immigrant and impoverished Blacks in Nashville. Over the next two decades and through partnerships with local agencies, educational programs and services were expanded to meet the growing needs of predominantly rural migrant workers including disease prevention, cooking, sewing and childcare techniques.
In 1907, Sallie Hill Sawyer, an African American Fisk University graduate, and Estelle Haskins, a Caucasian missionary, merged services to open a kindergarten, well-baby clinic, sewing circle and recreation program. These two women broke racial and gender barriers of their time to impact the lives other and provide essential services for the working poor. Today, Bethlehem Center of Nashville continues its ministry of “Changing Lives and Building Futures” with a commitment to the education and care of at-risk children, youth and seniors.