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Big Ugly Community Center



In 1993, when the Big Ugly School was shut down by school consolidation, this small Lincoln County community lost the one thing that held them together. The building was vandalized and run down. There was no electricity or water.


In 1995, Step by Step persuaded the county school board to turn over the property to the community at no cost. A group of volunteers gathered with shovels, brooms and buckets to reclaim the building. Neighbors hauled water from the creek, put bleach in it, and scrubbed the building down. A retired miner helped restore the plumbing and electrical systems. The Big Ugly Community Center was born. The building returned to its place at the heart of the community. 

Founder Michael Tierney, who lives a mile from the Center, created a 501(c)3 nonprofit structure for Step by Step Inc., so they could receive funding to create programs that would support the families along Big Ugly Creek.

​​The Big Ugly Community Center is the only public building (including grocery stores and schools) for 30 minutes in either direction from Big Ugly.

Because of this, BUCC is a lifeline for many Lincoln County families.

Since 1998, the Center has offered free afterschool programs for area kids.

Hundreds of area families have started and maintained gardens through the Grow Appalachia program. The Center offers summer camps for kids.

The Center invites the whole community to year-round special programs, including Thanksgiving Dinner with an arts and crafts display from Berea College.

Current Programs

Step by Step began at the Big Ugly Community Center in Lincoln County. Though Step by Step has spread to three counties, Big Ugly is still the heart of our organization.

The Big Ugly afterschool program is one of the longest running in the state. Every child attends free, Monday through Thursday, with bus service supplied by the school system.


For more information, check out the Facebook page, or contact Tami Boling at (304) 855-5402.


Free summer camps for kids.

The Grow Appalachia program has helped hundreds of families start and maintain their own gardens and greenhouse.

The home library program gives children more than 10,000 books each year. 


The woodworking shop gives kids a chance to acquire those skills

Big Ugly Center volunteers are still proving that a small, isolated, low-income community can come together to change things for the better and maintain that change for decades.

Upcoming Events

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