Earlier this month, we asked our readers which local influential woman you would like for us to highlight in honor of National Women’s History Month.
Ashley Arendt of Chattanooga nonprofit Northside Neighborhood House (NNH) suggested highlighting the founders of the organization, a local group of women. Ashley shared with us the historical documents the organization has kept over the years (including typewritten notes from the group’s first membership meeting in 1924), and let’s just say there’s a lot of history to be shared. For our spotlight, we’re going to highlight one of the founders specifically, Rose Longgley.
NNH’s mission is “to provide a hand up, not a handout, to neighbors in need,” a mission that was established in 1924 by Rose. After observing those facing hardships along the Tennessee River, Rose personally raised money and gave hours of her time to provide aid — but she didn’t stop there. She wanted to equip those in need with life skills + educational opportunities to serve as a means of empowerment.
Rose and the other founding members opened the first neighborhood house at the end of the Walnut Street Bridge. The center addressed a wide range of needs across all generations + had a focus on providing bedding for concerned mothers who were trying to keep their children warm in harsh living conditions. Rose taught the women how to sew quilts, not only to provide a means of warmth but as a way for the women to become self-sufficient.
Rose became the organization’s Executive Director in 1937 and served in that capacity for 36 years. During this time she saw to the establishment of sewing classes, childcare offerings, kindergarten classes, and more. After 50 years of service to her community, Rose was honored by having her name added to the organization’s sign — she retired after 51 years of service.
Rose lived to be 99 years old, and in an article with the then-named “Chattanooga News Free Press,” she shared that the secret to a long life is “Just having so many good friends — they mean everything to me.”
Rose’s legacy and mission still lives on with Northside Neighborhood House. For more information on the organization’s current efforts + ways to get involved, check out its website.
“What I have tried to establish here is a place where all who need help can come to find the means to survive at that movement, and more importantly, the skills and abilities to survive for a lifetime.” — Rose Longgley