Posted: July 30, 2015 at 6:39 pm

By: Craig Poole, Kaitlyn Redcay and Sydney Williams 

The soon to be open Central Place is “more of a place to belong instead of just a place to live,” according to ministry intern Victoria Poole. Unlike others in Morgantown, the apartment complex aims to create a dorm-like sense of community while giving residents the opportunity to grow in their faith.

Through its attached community center, the Harless Center, Central Place will offer free weekly meals, speaker series, small groups, game nights and service projects to keep residents involved with each other and the community. The downtown apartment building, located at 475 Baird Street, will house 234 students upon its opening in early August. The apartment complex aims to keep residents from feeling alone and does this further with its ministry interns. The interns live on each floor of the building and serve as residential assistants, creating activities and helping students.

Central Place at Harless Center

Central Place at Harless Center

“One of the things that has driven me and driven other people on the board are students feeling disconnected and isolated after they move out of the dorms because the dorms have such great programs to help students connect with each other and the faculty,” said Shelly Barrick-Parsons, the executive director and property manager. “We hope that one thing we have an impact on is building a community and a community of people who are willing to engage in conversations about faith and belief in a way that helps people to learn about other people’s beliefs, other people’s faith.”

Although the Harless Center is associated with the Presbyterian Church, Central Place welcomes students of all faiths.

“Everybody comes from a different background, especially here in West Virginia so [we aim] to provide some kind of a touchstone for people to be able to be grounded and build a successful career at WVU,” said Chet Parsons, chair of the board of directors.

Harless Center

Harless Center

“It’s really important to have a place where some of the prejudice and stereotypes that keep us separate from one another around faith and belief can be broken down so that we can go out and serve together, grounded in our own faith and belief, but growing an understanding of what other people have to share from their own belief and faith,” Barrick-Parsons said.

Central Place and the Harless Center hope to become a vital part of the Morgantown community and make an impact on students. Parsons stated, “my dream for the Harless Center, five years from now is that we’re a recognized, respected, community organization that is not only connected with WVU, but with downtown Morgantown and Monongalia County and we’re able to be a resource for not just students, but faculty and staff as well as the community as a whole.”

For more information, go to http://www.harlesscenter.org/