YMCA Safe Place

Erin Smith

AmeriCorps Vista Member 2017-2018

Site: Safe Place Services

In preparing for my Vista position I found myself to be fortunate to find a site within my hometown. I was born and raised in Louisville Kentucky and have seen my city grow and expand rapidly throughout my lifetime. However, with growth comes growing pains. The disparities between populations are becoming more apparent. Even those who choose to ignore the issues facing the city can no longer deny these changes.  We are living in a time where nonprofits are needed now more than ever especially in the area of youth and young adult services.

Safe Place Services was established in 1974 with the development of the Shelter House program. Shelter House was created in a response to the growing number of teens running from stressful and dire situations. After its dedication Shelter House became one of the first dedicated youth shelters in the United States provided tens of thousands of young people with a safe, secure, supportive environment that nurtures their potential and helps prepare them for a future.

Outside of the youth shelter, Safe Place Services has added two additional programs. The first is the Y-NOW Children of Prisoners Mentoring Program which seeks to eradicate the cycle of incarceration. Since 2005 the Y-NOW program has reached 246 children and in 2017 the number doubled. The second is the Opportunity Youth Program which is a partnered with Jefferson County Public Schools. The programs primary focus is to prevent juvenile delinquency and student engagement in school.

These three programs together reach thousands of children and their families each year. Unlike most programs that provide services to children, Safe Place strives to assist and mediate family relationships as well. Despite the issues plaguing nonprofits in recent time Safe Place still continues to thrive and provide a safe and secure environment.

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