Violet Township Fire Department stations are each now a designated Safe Place in the central Ohio community. The buildings will display the yellow and black Safe Place sign, which signifies immediate help and safety for youth.
It is estimated over one million youth run away from home each year due to abuse, neglect, family conflicts and other issues. The Safe Place program is an option for young people who feel they have nowhere to turn. Columbus’ Safe Place initiative, operated by Huckleberry House, is part of a national network of Safe Place programs in 37 states and the District of Columbia. Nearly 20,000 community businesses and organizations nationwide display the Safe Place sign, making help readily available for youth in need.
“By making their fire stations a Safe Place, Violet Township provides a safe alternative for runaway or homeless youth in their community,” states Becky Westerfelt, Executive Director of Huckleberry House.
Violet Township Fire Chief Mike Little states, “The collaboration with Huckleberry House makes sense. Our personnel have a duty to keep people safe and serve our community. This is just another way we are able to meet that community expectation.”
Huckleberry House is central Ohio’s Safe Place® agency and has 82 partner sites, including all 23 locations in the Columbus Metropolitan Library system. In addition to Safe Place sites, youth may also access immediate help via TXT 4 HELP, a text-for-support service for youth in crisis. Teens can text the word “safe” and their current location (address, city, state) to 69866 and receive a message with the closest Safe Place location and the number for the local youth shelter. Users also have the option to text interactively with a mental health professional for more help.
About Huckleberry House
Started in 1970 as a shelter for runaway teens, Huckleberry House serves young people and families in crisis. The organization’s four core programs include a 24-hour shelter for teens, an 18-month transitional living program for young adults who have experienced homelessness and are preparing to live independently in permanent housing, a youth outreach team that connects young people with resources and a family support counseling program with an expertise in adolescent cognitive behavior practices. To learn more visit: www.huckhouse.org.
About National Safe Place Network
National Safe Place Network (NSPN) provides quality training and technical support for youth and family service organizations across the country. Along with being a leading membership organization offering tailored organizational development, training and professional development packages, NSPN also operates the nationally recognized programs Safe Place, HTR3, and the Family and Youth Services Bureau’s Runaway and Homeless Youth Training and Technical Assistance Center (RHYTTAC). To learn more, please visit www.nspnetwork.org.
About Violet Township Fire Department
The department was established in 1934 as the Pickerington Volunteer Fire Department and served the village of Pickerington. In 1953, a bond issue was passed to allow the department to serve the whole township and change the name to Violet Township Fire Department. Today, the department responds to more than 6,000 calls per year. We operate from 3 stations strategically placed throughout the township. For more information go to www.violet.oh.us.