Editorials, Opinion

Legacy and future of Scott’s Run Settlement House

It is a testament to the Scott’s Run Settlement House’s success that it has grown beyond what its 100-year home can accommodate — and that people don’t want to see it leave.

There’s the Scott’s Run Settlement House the nonprofit organization (SRSH) and Scott’s Run Settlement House the house. The house has served as homebase for the nonprofit since 1922, when the organization was founded to serve the influx of immigrants coming to Osage to work in the mines, and so the two have always been synonymous. However, the organization, which has long addressed food insecurity throughout Monongalia County, has been graciously gifted a new home on Fairchance Road in Cheat Lake (the former United Methodist church). SRSH will be moving out of its namesake structure this summer.

We’re happy for the SRSH and what the newer, larger and ADA-compliant building means for its future. Already, SRSH provides a food pantry, senior feeding program, student weekend backpack feeding program and hygiene and baby pantries. A bigger, updated space opens the door for expanded and updated services.

But there are always growing pains, and the residents of Osage and others in the western end of Mon County aren’t exactly thrilled with the changes. We can certainly understand why they wouldn’t be: For those who rely on the SRSH, watching it move to the opposite end of the county may feel like being abandoned. But representatives from the SRSH have reassured that there will still be food pick-up appointments in Osage once a week and fresh produce giveaways twice a week; and they’ve also arranged with Mountain Line to extend bus service from the Mon-Fayette Industrial Park stop to the new SRSH Fairchance Road location.

Part of community resentment is the perception that the western region of Mon County needs SRSH more than the eastern side, where the new facility will be. Many of us were likely surprised to discover that about 89% of SRSH’s clientele actually live east of Osage, including in Morgantown city limits and Cheat Lake — the latter of which is considered an affluent area.

Will it be the same? No, but growth brings change and with time, we learn to adapt. Residents of Mon’s western towns won’t have SRSH right in their backyard anymore, but the organization isn’t abandoning them, because SRSH is more than just its 100-year-old house. The structure itself in Osage is likely to remain a historical landmark for the area and it sounds like SRSH is still planning to use it to help serve clients in the area. So it may not be as lively as it once was, but it will not be abandoned. A thriving plant may outgrow its pot, but there will always be traces of its roots in the soil; SRSH may have outgrown its building, but it will always have its roots in Osage.