Transforming Our Past to Build a Greater Today – TJM Community Center

Street view of center. By Peter Berry

Nestled in the beautiful countryside of South Boston, Va.  is a community of individuals striving to provide support and opportunities to our residents. One family who took on the challenge of offering these opportunities to our community is the Miller family:  Dale Miller and his son Brad Miller, the owners of the TJM Center. But before we dive into their passion and vision for strengthening our community, I want readers to understand the past to better appreciate the present.

Transforming Our Past to Build a Greater Today
TJM Community Center
Owners (Brad Miller on left and Dale Miller on right). Courtesy of Betty Majors

Remembering the Past

What we view as the TJM Center on Highway 501 in the Cluster Springs area was once known by local residents as the Cluster Springs Elementary School. Young children in the Hyco and Bold Springs communities attended this school. However, as South Boston and Halifax received funding to upgrade elementary schools across the county, this building became vacant. In 2019, Dale Miller took ownership of the former school, and with his son Brad as the operator, started a journey to execute a vision.

The name for the building was created in honor of Tarshish Jermaine Miller, (TJM) Dale’s son who was passionate about giving and helping others but passed away at an early age. The TJM Center is a tribute to him and the growing legacy of the Miller family as they work to be a resource for the residents of South Boston and Halifax County. I asked Dale why he decided to establish this recreation center in our community and  his answer was simple but powerful. He said, “I want to provide a support center to residents on this side of the Dan River, which is very rural, and I want to provide a place where residents can utilize technology and resources for their everyday needs. And lastly, this is my hometown; I want to give back to [it].”

From the time that the TJM Center was established, I have witnessed the supportive opportunities it provides to our community, including computer classes for all ages, etiquette classes for youth, and a banquet hall and smaller event spaces for celebrations and meetings. In the etiquette class, practical lessons are offered for youth ages 12-17 on financial management; interviewing and career planning; social media, and self-grooming. And for various celebrations, the community can utilize the gorgeous banquet hall and fully-equipped kitchen. The Millers work to uphold the legacy of their values and the memory of their loved one.

Transforming Our Past to Build a Greater Today
TJM Community Center
Residents utilizing one of the gym areas. Courtesy of Betty Majors

Community Offerings & More

Along with the Miller family, a community organization was formed to drive the vision and heart of all that occurs at the TJM Center. This internal organization is called Community Educating Others (CEO). Its members – local residents – continuously generate initiatives and ways to improve our community. In addition to those initiatives previously mentioned, CEO has formed a monthly Senior Meal Program. On the third Thursday of each month, the group provides meals, interactive games and activities, and informative presentations to over 100 senior citizens.

One event that the community can participate in and benefit from is the annual donation drive. The entire banquet hall is filled with cleaning supplies, clothing, and household goods, and residents can obtain what they need for free. A partnership with H&H Grocery plays a pivotal role in the success of this event. Other events include bingo and game nights, educational classes, and more. In 2024, CEO plans to continue all the current events and add social events such as a Veterans’ dinner, karaoke, poetry nights, and ladies brunch/support group meetings. The community is invited to join in this year as CEO continues these offerings.

Transforming Our Past to Build a Greater Today
TJM Community Center
Courtesy of Betty Majors

Maintaining the Center for the Next Generation

I asked the Millers how the community could support them and they suggested attending and participating in events, volunteering if able, and spreading the word when events are scheduled. The community can donate money to help further the programs in place and boost new initiatives. Lastly, they said they would love more support from the local churches in utilizing the community center for ministry and outreach needs.

Walking through the building, visitors will see the beautiful banquet hall with eye-catching drapes across the ceiling and a large stage where local bands and singers have shared their talents  and theatrical plays have captured the attention of neighboring towns. Further down the hall is the library and computer lab, both of which are available to anyone in the community to further their knowledge and gain access to resources. Across the hall is a game room for youth and a gym for those looking to improve their health. Beyond these areas is the outdoor playground, enjoyed by children who attend the daycare center in connection with the local community action agency. Each room is a place where the vision and purpose of giving back to the community is seen.

Transforming Our Past to Build a Greater Today
TJM Community Center
Annual supply giveaway Courtesy of Betty Majors

Being a Part of the Future

This center was established to be a place of resources for local residents, whether someone wants to develop their intellect, improve their nutrition and health, or grow their network by socializing with others. For the young and old, the TJM Center is a place for the community to utilize and pour back into a locally-owned and operated business that is centered on giving back and providing necessary resources for others. The TJM Center was established with the public in mind. Individuals, families and friends can share special occasions together in a beautiful space, or gain access to technology that may not be available in our rural areas, or engage in social activities where visitors see more than just their neighbor down the street. This center is for the South Boston community, and the Millers hope everyone will utilize this facility and find ways to support them.

So, when you wander the halls of this center, if you attended the former school as a student, you may reflect on the memories of your teachers who helped shape your future. If you have only entered since it became a community center, you may only know of the blessings that have come from the Millers’ service and giving back to the community. At the time when the pandemic was rising, our community was in dire need of a safe place to turn. This center became the answer and is still available today. Take a moment to stop by, reserve a space for upcoming celebrations, or attend one of the events on the calendar. Whichever one you choose, you will not be disappointed.

TJM Community Center

1011 Huell Matthews Hwy
South Boston, Va. 24592
(434) 575-2754
[email protected]