The yellow house on Waco’s Colcord Avenue may seem like any other house on the street, but it isn’t a typical house. This house is actually Good Neighbor Settlement House, a project founded by School of Education professor Dr. Laine Scales, who teaches in the Department of Educational Leadership and also serves Baylor’s Graduate School as associate dean.
A faith-based organization, Good Neighbor is modeled after the settlement houses of the nineteenth century. Good Neighbor believes Christians are called to love our neighbors. But Scales said that, in today’s world, there can be distance and fear even toward those closest to us, like our neighbors. Good Neighbor seeks to address that in its community through several avenues.
Scales said education is an important aspect of the mission. “I envisioned Go0d Neighbor House as a way to weave together my commitments to higher education, social work and faith,” she said.
Good Neighbor opens its doors to welcome all of Waco for events, groups and classes. Some ongoing programs include Tai Chi classes, a Spanish-English chat group, a crafting club, and music jams — all opportunities for informal learning. Neighbors may also reserve the space for private events such as a baby shower or a Quinceañera.
One recent event was a free outdoor concert designed to bring together people from different backgrounds. Church groups have also used the house for worship and prayer.
Scales said the inspiration for Good Neighbor House grew out of her academic work. “The idea started when I was writing an article about a settlement house Baptist women graduate students operated in 1912,” she said. “The Louisville, Kentucky, house was a place of mutual learning and faith enrichment for the immigrants in the community, as well as the graduate students. Then a house became available in my neighborhood, and I realized it was an opportunity for us to re-create this idea that was lost, but had great potential for our times.”
Good Neighbor practices Christian hospitality and promotes learning by providing safe and welcoming spaces for neighbors to use. Education can happen anywhere there are people invested in teaching and learning, and our neighborhoods are a great place to start, Scales said.
She said the House wants to find opportunities to live out the words of the apostle Paul that we should “encourage one another and lift each other up.” It is exactly this type of calling that prompts Good Neighbor to continue to serve and educate.
Story and photos by Megan McAllister
You are welcome to contact Good Neighbor House at any of the following:
The Good Neighbor Settlement House
2301 Colcord Avenue
Waco, TX 76707
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Founded in 1919, Baylor School of Education ranks among the nation’s top 20 education schools located at private universities. The School’s research portfolio complements its long-standing commitment to excellence in teaching and student mentoring. Baylor’s undergraduate program in teacher education has earned national distinction for innovative partnerships with local schools that provide future teachers deep clinical preparation, while graduate programs culminating in both the Ed.D. and Ph.D. prepare outstanding leaders, teachers and clinicians through an intentional blend of theory and practice.
ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY
Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.