For nearly 10 years the High Point Neighborhood Family Center was known as "the little house."
But Thursday night, an estimated 900 people turned out to celebrate the center moving to a bigger home — a new 7,200-square-foot facility at 5812 150th Ave. N.
"It's a bigger place to help more people," resident Michelle Wyant said.
"This is a blessing falling from the sky," Pinellas County sheriff's community patrol Officer Cheko Carter said. "This is a centralized building where everyone can come and receive equal services."
Carter is one of two sheriff's community patrol officers serving the High Point area. The new center houses a Sheriff's Office substation and representatives of the Police Athletic League.
"This place creates a safe haven for people to talk about what's going on in their community," Carter said. "Residents can come here for any number of things, so they can be anonymous if they happen to want to talk to one of us."
Executive director Margo Adams said the $1.3-million center was built with money from a community development block grant administered by Pinellas County and private donors.
The center is supported through partnerships with Pinellas County, the Juvenile Welfare Board, private donors, churches and local businesses. It is called the Pinch-A-Penny campus in recognition of the generosity of John Thomas, chief executive officer of Pinch-A-Penny Pool Supply.
Activities at the center range from "social services to education to fun," Adams said.
High Point is an application center for public assistance while offering family support programs and various discussion groups. The direct assistance programs — a food pantry and a clothing closet — are in huge demand.
Literacy programs, job assistance and after-school tutoring are also part of the center's mission, while arts and crafts classes are enjoyed by children and adults.
"The center keeps the kids off the streets with good supervision," High Point resident Josephine Santana said. "This is what the community needs."
"I love what I do, knowing it is prevention," Adams said. "We empower people to live better lives."