Area Businesses Offer "Safe Place" for Teens in Crisis - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe News Weather, Video -

Area Businesses Offer "Safe Place" for Teens in Crisis

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The Children's Cabinet in Reno is stepping up efforts to help runaways and teens who are in crisis. One of their tools is the "Safe Place" program which enlists local businesses and restaurants, who display a sign that tells teens they can come inside and ask for help. 

"Safe Place Program is 1-800 number you can call if you're in a crisis, or if you know someone." That's what Norma Thomas of the Children's Cabinet tells teens along the Truckee River in downtown Reno, as she hands out information and some goodies. The Safe Place Program offers teens in crisis a place to turn to for help. 

"The idea is, we like to educate the youth and the older ones. The younger teens can use the shelter, the older ones take the information to youth that we may not reach and let them know there's a safe place to go," said Thomas.

Teens who have run away from home, or are in crisis can look for the "Safe Place" sign at local businesses and restaurants and they know there's someone inside who can call for help. "The Safe Place Program started in northern Nevada at area McDonalds. It has since spread to 11 other organizations, including CAMPO restaurant in downtown Reno.  

CAMPO owner and chef, Mark Estee, says he's happy to help local teens. "It made sense for us. We're a neighborhood restaurant and we want to be here for the neighborhood," he said. CAMPO employees went through training put on by the Children's Cabinet. "There's a protocol that happens when someone comes in and says 'Is this a safe place?' We go to the back and pull out a sheet and we follow along with what we're supposed to do," said Estee. 

Mike Pomi, the executive director at the Children's Cabinet says teen homelessness picks up during the summer, so having several locations helps. "They can go to the staff that are trained to contact the Children's Cabinet outreach worker. They go and pick up the child and get them back into shelter or into safe housing so they're off the streets and in a safe environment," Pomi said. 

Norma Thomas and her outreach team are gaining the trust of local teens. "They tell us that they know what Safe Place is. They tell us that they tell other youth about Safe Place. They tell us that we've helped them and they really appreciate that we're coming out and making the effort," said Thomas.

The Children's Cabinet recently received a $25,000 grant from the Humana Foundation to continue funding the program. The Children's Cabinet reports that it has helped 35,000 area teens through the Safe Place and street outreach programs.

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Written by Jennifer Burton

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