RAP House invites public for tours March 24
 RAP House invites the public to March 24 tours of the facility for runaway youths on the grounds of Youth and Family Alternatives in New Port Richey.

RAP House invites the public to March 24 tours of the facility for runaway youths on the grounds of Youth and Family Alternatives in New Port Richey.

NEW PORT RICHEY — In observance of National Safe Place Week, March 18-24, the RAP House Youth Shelter at Youth and Family Alternatives will open its doors to the public Saturday, March 24, to highlight its connection as a Safe Place location.

Youth who runaway due to abuse, neglect, family conflicts and other issues find a safe haven at YFA's youth shelter at 7524 Plathe Road, New Port Richey, Maria Matheus explained as YFA communications specialist.

Safe Places are youth-friendly businesses, schools, fire stations, libraries, YMCAs and other appropriate buildings that display the distinctive yellow and black Safe Place sign. YFA's Rap House Youth Shelter participates in the Safe Place program in New Port Richey, providing immediate help and safety for youth in need.

Youth may access immediate help via TXT 4 HELP, a text for support service that offers safe locations to youth in crisis.

YFA also will host vendors at the event, including Metropolitan Ministries, Premier Community Health, Pasco Sheriff Safety Net, Hillsborough Victim's Advocate Crisis Center of Tampa Bay, Pasco County Department of Health's Healthy Start and Tobacco divisions and many others.

People can take a tour of the facility to see how they may also contribute to impacting the lives of youth.

Light refreshments will be available. Call (727) 843-1917 for more information.

National Safe Place Network Safe Place has helped more than 359,000 youth since its inception in 1983 and currently serves more than 1,400 communities across the country.

“Unfortunately, young people face troubling issues in today’s world, such as abuse, neglect, bullying and serious family problems,” Laurie Jackson, President and CEO for NSPN, said in a press release. “It’s up to all of us to offer solutions, places where youth can go to get help.”

It is estimated that more than one million youth run away from home each year, so Safe Place is an option for young people who feel they have nowhere to turn.

Safe Place consists of a national network of more than 21,000 partnering businesses and community locations, that display the Safe Place sign in their windows. As youth enter a designated Safe Place and ask for help, trained staff members connect them to the appropriate youth shelter for assistance.

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 4HELP (44357) to 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 counselor for more help.

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Maria Matheus