Tyler, TX

49-year-old Chapel Hill Community Service Organization still going strong in East Texas

Tour Tyler Texas

Clarence Edmond Shackelford (AKA) "M1Y" - The Artist, a publicist, and founder of Texas Sports Museum, Tour Tyler Texas and Texas African American Museum all are programs that are under the auspices of the Empowerment Community Development Corporation, which is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit.

HISTORY of Chapel Hill Community Service Organization AKA CHCSO (Written by Richard H. Davis)

THIS IS THE REAL AND TRUE HISTORY OF Chapel Hill Community Service Organization.

N. L. and Espanola Davis were two educators in the East Texas area and in our rural Jackson community east of Tyler, Texas.

Mary Evelyn Davis Norris and I were reared by them and grew up knowing the influence and passion that both of our parents had for youth, for their community and for their church. Evelyn married Herbert Norris over 63 years ago, and the two of them have worked tirelessly down through the years as prominent educators and have helped to keep the Chapel Hill Community Service Organization alive, long after our parents died.

Banquet - August 2023Photo byPhoto by Clarence Shackelford

Others in the community have remained dedicated to the organization as well.

• I remember around 1974-75 discussions in our home.

• They said, “We need rural programs and activities because the city of Tyler didn’t/couldn’t provide such services for our residents.”

• They envisioned a community center, site for civic activities and training, developmental programs, equipment for youth, etc.

• We begin where we can begin: Prior to 1970 our community and schools were segregated, so they named the initial organization the Jackson Community Action Club.

• People in the community Purchased 10 acres of land for $2,000 from Rural Resident Henry Campbell.

• Men in the community came together to sign a loan with Arp State Bank, now American State Bank so that the land could be purchased, bull-dozed, developed, and so that a building could be erected.

• My father, N. L. Davis, was born in 1902, which meant he was 27 years old when the stock market crashed in 1929. He was very industrious and frugal. He pinched every penny until drops of zinc and copper ran out. After the purchase of the 10 acres from the Campbells, my father collaborated with Mr. Hezekiah Houston to plant nearly 2 acres of watermelons on the land until it was fully developed and cleared for organizational programs.

The task of hoeing weeds from the patch and hauling the watermelons fell to Herbert Norris, Evelyn Norris, and me. The idea was to sell the watermelons to people up and down the highway to raise money for the organization.

• When Butler College in Tyler was dissolved and lumber was to be thrown away, at the direction of N. L. Davis, my classmate, Edward Campbell, and I hauled free/used lumber in our cattle trailer and stacked it on our property for future use.

• Soon after stockpiling this used lumber, some men from the community, Mr. Earl Square, Mr. Stafford Warren, Mr. Densmore Hooper, and others took this lumber and built a small building from which to sell concessions.

• Many community members voted to name the 10-acre site the Davis Park, but my mother, Espanola Davis, thought that it should be named at least “The Campbell-Davis Park” because of the generosity Mr. Henry Campbell had shown to sell the organization 10 acres for the meager price of $2,000. The same acreage would be most unaffordable to our organization today.

• In 1976, dedicated leaders and members worked together and sought to rename the organization, the Chapel Hill Community Service Organization. It was incorporated as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization in 1978.

• During the President Jimmy Carter years (1977-1981), the CETA program (Comprehensive Employment and Training Act) was expanded as part of the Economic Stimulus Appropriations Act, which aimed to boost the economy and reduce unemployment. The CHCSO was able to hire staff to “man” and maintain the grounds.

• Soon after, the old concessions building was torn down, our one and only current structure at the park was erected as a multi-purpose building. Jerry Mumphrey, a community resident and MLB star who graduated from Chapel Hill High School donated enough funds to lay the foundation for this new building. Those revolutionary members back then built a softball diamond with lighting on the grounds to help the community come together for family recreation.

• Mr. Herbert Norris collaborated with the East Texas Family Services and Region 7 ESC to establish a Head Start program on the grounds which brought in significant funds back then. Through this collaboration, playground equipment was also purchased. But because we do not have adequate lighting, signage, and because we have no fencing or security, much of the equipment, including HVAC units were stolen.

• In the past, Mr. Ronnie Williams developed a Monthly Newsletter, Mrs. Evelyn Busby held Health Fairs, Mr. Gwyen Dean, Mrs. Belinda Dean, Mrs. Callie Hooper, Mrs. Evelyn Norris, Mrs. Linda Campbell Boson, et. al provided food for elderly community residents. Talent Shows were held.

Mr. Cedric Suell held Annual Car Shows and to this day oversees a Fitness Program for our residents. A few other relevant programs have existed in recent years. Today, most of our programmatic and operational funding comes from leasing our building to people who want to hold various functions there; from members paying dues; and from donations made by people like you.


 Charles Welson Brewster, President

 Clarence Ford, President and Board Chairman

 Lott Pitts, President and Board Chairman

 Herbert Norris, President and Board Chairman

 J. B. Mayfield, President and Board Chairman

 Billy Roach, President Paul Suell, President and Board Chairman

 Henry Mills, President and Board Chairman

 Roy Moore, President

 Gwyen Dean, Current President

• In the last two years, the CHCSO has held strategic planning workshops, revised its constitution; established realistic vision and mission statements, laid out manageable goals and objectives; has written an effective business plan to pursue relevant grants; has created a secure website that allows for online donations; and has launched a pathway to conduct fundraising events such as this one here and now.

• What was relevant then is mostly antiquated today. We need serious building repair, technology, HVAC, kitchen equipment, lighting, signage, fencing, tables, chairs, grounds programs, advertising, marketing, and so much more.

• Today, we need more youth involvement to propel CHCSO to new levels.

#Gratitude #Blessed #Thankful #GodIsGood #JourneyOfLife

Sources: https://empowermentcdc.org, TourTylerTexas@gmail.com Prepared by M1Y - Clarence Edmond Shackelford - TourTylerTexas@gmail.com

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I have been a community publicist in East Texas since 1985 in this role I have covered 10's of thousands of special events. I am also the founder of the founder Tour Tyler Texas and the Texas African American Museum

Tyler, TX

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