Learning environment

Spirit of Alabama: The House Tuscaloosa provides a welcoming learning environment

At first glance, it is a beautiful brick house where any family could like to live. But it’s much more than that, as two students from the University of Alabama can tell you.

Quin Kelly Jr. and Alexus Cumbie serve on the board of The House Tuscaloosa.

“What we hope to do with our literacy center is give children the basics to succeed and extend their lives,” Kelly said.

Kelly and Cumbie spend a lot of time working in a quaint brick house on the Stillman College campus. It once served as the residence of the school president, but has been vacant for about 20 years. Today, it comes back to life with a new mission: to ensure that children are literate.

“Literacy is understanding, not just reading, but understanding,” Kelly said. “So our current focus is on educational literacy, spiritual literacy and musical literacy, but we hope to expand that into other areas.”

“Quin and I and the rest of the board, we come here almost every day, several times a week to paint, sand and move furniture,” Cumbie said. “It’s been a smaller team due to COVID, but we’re just blessed to have had people working outside and really helping us run the house.”

Inside, the shelves are already filling with books. Many books. Kelly and Cumbie, both graduate students at UA, said they wanted the Tuscaloosa House to become a special space.

“My goal is that we can really connect with the teen population,” Cumbie said. “I think their reading comprehension is so essential and they can either sink or swim.”

Maison Tuscaloosa is preparing to begin work in earnest this summer. Kelly, Cumbie and their fellow volunteers are also working on fundraising and awareness.

Their next event, taking place May 8 from 7 a.m. to noon behind Snow Hinton Park, is a sidewalk sale to benefit The House Tuscaloosa.

Visitors to the sale can fill a bag for $5 or a box for $15. If you would like to donate items for sale or volunteer, you can email [email protected]

You can also make a monetary donation to the organization here.