Huckleberry House Day

March 6 is an important date in Huckleberry House history.

  • On March 6, 1970, Huckleberry House was established as a shelter for runaway youth in Columbus, Ohio.
  • On March 6, 2020, Huckleberry House purchased the Kenmore Square apartments for Transitional Housing.

 

This year, as we celebrate Huckleberry House Day for the very first time, we invite you to:

  • Learn a bit more about our history,
  • Get to know some of the people who helped make Huckleberry House what it is today, and,
  • Help us establish a “professional development” fund that will provide future learning opportunities for our incredible and hard-working staff.

 

Huckleberry House Day allows us to honor all of the people who helped make the organization what it is today, and who are working now and in the future in support of our mission: With hope, we shelter, support, and guide youth navigating challenges.

Come back to this blog often for new information. We also invite you to support Huckleberry House Day by making a weekly or monthly contribution of $6; or, a one-time contribution in any $6 incremement on our online donation page, or mail a check to: Huckleberry House, attn: Carol Argiro, 1421 Hamlet Street, Columbus, OH 43201. Special thanks for Bill and Shirley Carpenter for making a contribution (of a $6 increment) to seed the Professional Development Fund while supporting our 2024 Huckleberry House Day activities.

Madeleine Knill

Madeleine Knill (Maddy) was with Huckleberry House from 1978 until 1993 – 15 years! Maddy’s title was Administrative Assistant and she handled all fiscal aspects of running the organization. For her first few years, her office was in the Crisis Shelter on what was once the summer kitchen of the house. Later, she moved to the third floor, climbing many, many stairs. Maddy states, “No one was more impressed by new position at Huckleberry House than my 4-year old nephew – he thought I was working for Huckleberry Hound!”

What were the urgent issues around youth crisis and homelessness during your tenure at Huckleberry House?

In the beginning years of Huckleberry House, we focused on crisis intervention/housing and after care counseling.  As we grew, we added Transitional Living and Youth Outreach Programs.

What are you doing now?

Since retiring from The American Red Cross in 2017, I have (and continue to have) a part-time accounting position with Community Shares of Mid-Ohio.

Point of fact.

Huckleberry House is named after an organization of the same name in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood in San Francisco, which opened in 1969 during the Summer of Love as the first shelter for runaway youth in the United States.

On March 6, please consider a recurring monthly contribution of $6 or more; or a gift of any amount in a $6 increment to help us celebrate Huckleberry House Day and to seed a Professional Development Fund for our staff.

Steven Moore

Steven Moore worked on the third floor of Huckleberry House beginning in 1994 and before leaving in 1997 had moved his office into the Carriage House. Steven was the Grants Administrator for the organization. Today, Steven is the Chief of Staff of The Columbus Foundation.

Can you share one funny or inspiring story that you remember.

Lots of funny stories and deep relationships.  I worked when Miss Francis made meals for the house and looked after folks. My other favorite moments were working with Donna Jordan.

What were the urgent issues around youth crisis and homelessness during your tenure at Huckleberry House?

The Transitional Living Program was new when I started working at Huck House.  That was a pressing issue as the Community Shelter Board was just ten years old and still developing. But the idea of “runways” had already shifted and the promise of family reconciliation wasn’t always an option.

Point of fact.

Huckleberry House’s first home was in the basement of Indianola United Methodist Church, on the Corner of 17th Ave. and Summit Street. This building is no longer there and has been replaced by University housing.

On March 6, please consider a recurring monthly contribution of $6 or more; or a gift of any amount in a $6 increment to help us celebrate Huckleberry House Day and to seed a Professional Development Fund for our staff.

Thank you in advance for your support of Huckleberry House.

David Small

Celebrate Huckleberry House Day, March 6, 2024!

Where are they now?

David Small worked at Huckleberry House for eight years, beginning in 1978. His first position was “aftercare counselor.” He then became the program coordinator (clinical and operations, supervisor) for the Crisis Shelter and aftercare programs until 1985. During those years, the entire program operated within the confines of “the mansion.” “Getting to the streets, beyond the neighborhood was a dream,” states Small. He goes on:

An overwhelming number presented right at the front door. An emancipation program with a residential option and wrap-around supports: Unimaginable.   The “carriage house“ had a rooming option for house managers. For the first year, I worked in the office at the top of the stairs on the right, next to the young men’s dormitory. The remainder of the time I spent in the office immediately to the right as you enter the home. From there I watched thousands of young people, entering and leaving, each receiving the warm welcome they craved, and leaving, regardless of outcome, having been truly seen and well-regarded. Sometimes a first for them, I’m sure. I have such memories of counselors and youth, floating in and out that room for a moment of comfort, respite, and sometimes tough feedback, which they usually managed to give to themselves in the course of the conversation.

Can you share one funny or inspiring story that you remember.

From the back window of my office, I had a view to the parking lot. There, frustrated parents not ready to participate in the program during a period of crisis would often be greeted car-side by one of our counselors, in the course of “picking up” their child. One counselor spent more time there than in her office, on Sundays. We affectionately named her the “Toot and tell counselor.” She knew that the art of engagement was meeting people where they are at, literally.

Coming to the agency for the first time. I was in the throes of “heading west” to attend a graduate school. I couldn’t quite shake the feeling of being more interested in “the territory” more than “the map.” Seeing an ad in the newspaper, I came in to fill out an application for the role of crisis counselor. That’s how we did it in those days. I left knowing that I had found my territory; I belonged. Days later I received the proverbial “sorry no” letter. Not even an interview! So much for “knowing.“ I did finally learn that I was being considered for a new position. As the new aftercare counselor, I had the honor of taking on Huckleberry House’s first steps beyond crisis stabilization. And I always felt at home.

Finally, about 10 years ago I was contacted via Facebook by a man now in his 30s and living out of state. He said that when he was 15, he came to Huckleberry house “in a bad way.“ I was not his counselor, but he remembered vividly a conversation that he, his counselor and I had in the hallway. Without specifics, he simply wanted to reach out and say thanks. Takes me back to one of my favorite Huckleberry House learnings: You never know when you’re making a memory.

What were the urgent issues around youth crisis and homelessness during your tenure at Huckleberry House?

Regarding issues of the day, I’m not sure they are much different today. Surely more complex in this complex world. But also a world that recognizes the level of violence and trauma that happen in families.  And Huckleberry House surely provides a more robust response. Across the decades Huckleberry House has firmly held strong to the belief that, given the proper support and resources, people can, and do change and grow. And also faces the same challenge of too few resources in the face of the overwhelming needs of youth in crisis and beyond. After all, children make bad advocates. They are poor and they don’t vote. Thank you for continuing to give them a voice.

Today, David is happily retired with his wife of 40 years, living on the shores of Lake Michigan.

Point of fact.

Huckleberry House moved to the Hamlet Street house in Weinland Park in 1976. Sometimes called the Castle House, the single-family dwelling was built by Felix A. Jacobs between 1905 & 1910 and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986.

On March 6, please consider a recurring monthly contribution of $6 or more; or a gift of any amount in a $6 increment to help us celebrate Huckleberry House Day and to seed a Professional Development Fund for our staff.

Lara Palay

Where are they now?

Celebrate Huckleberry House Day, March 6, 2024!

Lara Palay began her career at Huckleberry House in 1988 as a House Manager in the Teen Crisis Shelter, and stayed in various roles until 1998. She then returned in 2003 to run the Teen Crisis Shelter, and stayed until 2009 – a total of 16 years.

What role(s) did you have?

Lots! Here’s what I can remember:

  • House Manager
  • Transitional Living specialist (founding team, or as I prefer to call it, “original band line-up”)
  • Community Support Professional
  • Volunteer and Training Coordinator
  • Crisis program director
  • Aftercare program director

Where did you physically work?

Um, mostly inside, but sometimes outside, usually arguing with drug dealers that they couldn’t come inside. My parents were very happy about this.

Can you share one funny or inspiring story that you remember?

Very, very many, but one that sticks out is when a friend of mine (who will remain anonymous to protect the guilty) made an expensive mistake and fully expected to be fired for it. Doug McCord surprised him by saying, “I’m not going to fire you-I just invested $X dollars to make sure you won’t ever make that mistake again”. It was a leadership lesson I’ve remembered ever since.

What were the urgent issues around youth crisis and homelessness during your tenure at Huckleberry House?

I think that there are probably fewer true “runaways” today, perhaps due to an increased awareness of the dangers of doing this, and the ability to communicate with phones to find friends to crash with, etc. But the larger issues of poverty, racism, oppression, mental health issues and parents struggling with their own burdens have not changed.

What are you doing now?

I’ve been a psychotherapist in private practice for over 25 years. I worked as a liaison between the Ohio Department of Mental Health (at the time) and the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities. I co-founded a small policy think tank, and currently am a founding partner of a consulting firm for human services, specializing in trauma and other mental health issues. I am a nationally recognized speaker for mental health, trauma, professional burnout, disabilities, and grief and loss. I published a book about trauma and developmental disabilities in 2021, The Way Through, through NADD Press, and much of what I learned at Huckleberry House can be found in there. My next book, The Sum of Light, will be published by NADD Press in 2025.

Point of fact.

The Teen Crisis Shelter sits in the heart of the Weinland Park community adjacent to the University District. In the 60’s and 70’s, the neighborhood was in decline and the Short North Posse, the largest and most violent gang Columbus had every see, moved in and wreaked havoc in the neighborhood for more than 25 years. Huckleberry House stood as a safe space for young people, even during this time of turmoil.

On March 6, please consider a recurring monthly contribution of $6 or more; or a gift of any amount in a $6 increment to help us celebrate Huckleberry House Day and to seed a Professional Development Fund for our staff.

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Items we need:

Clothing and Personal Items

  • Underwear
  • Sweatpants (Youth M – Adult XXL)
  • Sweatshirts (Youth M – Adult XXL)
  • Shorts (Youth M – Adult XXL)
  • T-shirts (Youth M – Adult XXL)
  • Socks
  • Wallets
  • Earbuds

          Please note that we are unable to accept any used clothing items.

General Supplies

  • Composition notebooks/journals
  • Adult coloring books
  • Colored pencils
  • Art supplies
  • “Smell goods” (i.e. Bath & Body Works)

Toiletries and Hygiene Products

  • Deodorant
  • Shampoo and conditioner*
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Body soap*
  • Tootbrushes and toothpaste*
  • Brushes and combs
  • Ethnic hair care products

    The * denotes that the item must be in a full size bottle.

Misellaneous Items

  • Baby items
  • Pillows
  • Solid color twin comforters and sheet sets
  • Kitchen utensils, general cleaning and laundry supplies, picture frames
  • Non-perishable food items for youth outreach (crackers, cup of soup, fruit snacks, chips)
  • Gift cards from $5 to $25 for fast food restaurants, grocery stores, gas stations
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