A new director and direction for the Neighborhood Engagement Hub

FLINT, Michigan — It was a cold and rainy morning when I met up with Tom Wyatt at the Neighborhood Engagement Hub (NEH). It was nice to see him for the first time since the holidays. We first met back in 2015 while he was teaching the community about Crime Prevention Through Environmental Development (CPTED). 

Since then, Wyatt hasn’t changed much; in his early 40s, he’s a fairly tall man with glasses, short sandy hair, and a neat beard. He was raised in Flint and Grand Blanc, has lived in Charlotte NC and East Lansing, and came back to Genesee County in 2013. He and his wife, Rachel, have been married for nearly 20 years and have two children, Hannah (age 12) and Jude (age 8).

Wyatt is comfortable to speak with and puts me at ease as his attention is focused on the topic being discussed. He's quick-witted, jovial, and has a broad range of knowledge — all of which are good traits when dealing with the public in his current capacity as Executive Director of the NEH which he accepted in 2021.  

He was previously employed by the city of Midland for about a year in the planning division, coordinating block grants for the city and housing commission. Prior to that, he was with Kettering University for 5 years, managing the Department of Justice's grant program until it ended. Wyatt then transitioned to director of the University Corridor Neighborhood & Community Services program. The focus was primarily on the west side of Flint in the Carriage Town, Glendale Hills, and Mott Park neighborhoods, but if residents from other areas in Flint were interested they were more than welcome. 

Wyatt's educational background is in urban planning from Arizona State University, and his interest in urban planning was piqued by living and working in the Grand Traverse District Neighborhood in 2009.  

The NEH is located on MLK Blvd. near Pasadena Ave. in Flint where it was originally a Genesee Bank then the site of the Salem Housing Corp. The NEH offers help with the needs of neighborhood groups such as grant assistance, connecting to other groups for mutual aid, organizations that provide additional services, planning clean-ups, and also has computers for job searches and writing resumes.

The neighborhood hub also has a Tool Shed that has almost everything a person might need to do outdoor tasks such as lawnmowers, rakes, shovels, and rototillers, and it provides instructions on how to safely operate the machinery. There is hope that in the near future it can provide tools for minor home repairs and a mobile tool shed that can be utilized at neighborhood events.      

Wyatt is exploring other ways the NEH can serve the community. A restructuring to take it in new directions may include workshops to explore career pathways for various jobs, i.e. building trades where a college degree isn’t necessary. He is also looking into podcasts on different subjects that focus on Flint like why people want to live here and people that have had a good life here.

During our meeting, Wyatt stated, "My goal is to inform people of the NEH’s existence, not just the services we offer, but that it is city-wide, and that the next phase of our organization will benefit the community even more."

For more information on the Neighborhood Engagement Hub, visit their website, and find them on Facebook.

Read more articles by Edna Sabucco.