In 1965, a federally funded early childhood program was formed to service children from low-income families. It would service pre-school children. The aim was to accommodate about 30 children. Mrs. Willieann Lewis was appointed “Neighborhood Worker.” Her first job was to collect at least 250 signatures to prove there was a need for this type of program in Hamilton Township. Mrs. Lewis, with the help of the late Rev. Dr. J. O. Wilson, collected the required number of signatures in just two days. Hamilton Township became a target area. The directors of the program began the search for a suitable building in Hamilton Township that would meet the federal guidelines to house the program. This proved to be quite a task.
In 1967, Rev. Wilson approached the congregation of the St. Phillips Baptist Church, as to the use of the basement of the church, for a possible site for the program. Against odds, Rev. Wilson and a few officers were able to convince the majority of the members that housing the program would be beneficial to both the community and the church. Thus began the Hamilton site of the Mercer County Head Start Program, which was housed in the basement of St. Phillips Baptist Church.
Head Start would eventually outgrow the basement of St. Phillips Baptist Church and it was moved to the property in the rear of the church until a new, bigger, much needed service center was built. The new center was built on the site of an old “neighborhood” playground. The design and construction of the center was more than $500,000. The funding was provided by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, Community Development Block Grant Program to the Township of Hamilton. In 1976 – 1977, the center was established and named the Hamilton Township Neighborhood Service Center.
In 1978, Mayor John K. Rafferty, dedicated the John O. Wilson Hamilton Neighborhood Service Center, at its present site, to honor the memory of the late Rev. Dr. John O. Wilson, who worked very hard in setting the groundwork for his long awaited dream for a community center in Hamilton Township.
Today, the center provides a wide variety of services to the entire citizenry of Hamilton Township and the surrounding communities.