Looking north on Post Road at the intersection of 42nd Street, there was an unfamiliar sight peeking out above the trees. It was the zipper, that carnival ride where passengers hang on for dear life inside a cage as they get whipped around in a rotating oval.
It was the tallest ride at a carnival organized by the Reset Center, a new community center and church. Those who attended said they’ve never seen anything like a carnival in that area.
“I’ve been over here for a minute, and I haven’t seen anything like this,” said Byron Webster, 35, who was at the carnival with his 12-year-old son. “… You got kids running out here and everything.”
The area around 42nd Street and Post Road has a reputation that doesn’t include carnivals, but that’s the point. It’s something for people to look forward to and enjoy.
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The carnival was open Oct. 10-13. Napoleon Isabell was there every day with his 5-year-old son, even when it was cold and spitting rain Friday evening.
“It’s awesome,” he said. “You don’t have to go all over the city trying to find one. It’s right here. I live directly across the street, so I don’t have to drive east or west or north. I can walk.”
Isabell grew up in Chicago and said he had it worse there than in Indianapolis, but he understands people see the place where he lives as run down and plagued with violence.
“It’s a rough neighborhood,” he said. “You talk to anybody outside, it’s a rough neighborhood.”
That’s what Howard Harding, pastor and executive director of the Reset Center, is trying to change. Harding said he grew up in a similar neighborhood in Detroit and has envisioned starting a community center since he was a kid.
“When you think 42nd and Post, you don’t think carnivals,” Harding said. “You don’t think fun rides, and you don’t think kids running around having a good time. I think until someone comes in and just truly shows the community that they care about them for being people and give them some of the resources that they need, we’re not going to change it.”
Harding, who’s been a pastor since 2011, had an old location for his church closer to downtown. The church purchased the building for the Reset Center, 4330 N. Post Road, in 2017, but renovations were halted for about a year after a follow-up measurement of the building found it was 3,000 square feet less than originally thought. The bank took back a portion of the loan, and Harding had to fundraise for the remainder.
The Reset Center opened in early July and has been much more of a community center than a church.
The organization offers Spanish classes for English speakers and English classes for Spanish speakers. There’s group and individual counseling with a psychologist on staff. Taco Tuesday brings in as many as 500 people each week, Harding said, and there are separate mentoring programs for boys and girls.
The Reset Center doesn’t have a website yet, but more information can be found at cityoflawrence.org and on the organization’s Facebook page. The only religious component so far is a Bible study class, and there won’t be Sunday service until next year. Harding said he talked to community members and learned they didn’t just want another church.
“Instead of me just trying to throw a praise team on the stage or a band on the stage, we started putting some of these programs around what the people said they needed,” he said.
The logo for the Reset Center has a backward “R.” The idea: People who go to the Reset Center may not be walking down the best path of life, but they can turn that “R” around and reset it.
“Don’t count the 42nd and Post Road area out,” Harding said. “Because they’re people. They just need someone to care about them, and that’s what we’re doing.”
Contact staff writer Tyler Fenwick at 317-762-7853. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.