City of Upper Arlington Fire Division is now a designated a 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, the city of Upper Arlington provides a safe alternative for runaway or homeless youth in their community,” states Becky Westerfelt, Executive Director of Huckleberry House.
Upper Arlington Assistant Fire Chief Christopher Zimmer states, “We are excited to collaborate with Huckleberry House. Our personnel strive daily to provide exceptional service to the community and keep residents safe. Working with Huckleberry House is another example as to how we serve those in need.”
Huckleberry House is central Ohio’s Safe Place® agency and has 84 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 the Upper Arlington Fire Division
The Upper Arlington Fire Division was established in 1930 and consisted of one fire engine, an assistant fire chief, a lieutenant and two firefighters.
Today, the Fire Division operates from two fire stations and the city is served by one engine/rescue unit, one ladder truck and three medic units. The UAFD responds to more than 4,500 calls per year. The UAFD provides fire prevention and suppression, emergency medical, technical rescue, and hazardous materials mitigation services. The UAFD has 55 firefighters and paramedics that work across three different shift consisting of 24-hours on-duty and then 48 hours off. The administrative team includes the Fire Chief, Assistant Fire Chief, the Fire Prevention Office, EMS/Training Office, a CARES manager and support staff.
The Fire Division offers a variety of health and safety programs to the community which includes CPR, Fire Prevention, the CARES program (Community Assistance, Referrals and Education), child car seat installation, station and truck tours, and public speaking engagements. For more information go to upperarlington.gov/fire-division