Niagara Gazette

Niagara Living

August 1, 2008

TEEN SAFEHOUSE: The Casey House in Niagara Falls

Like many other troubled teens in the Niagara Falls area, Jake Jones felt the pressures of life on the streets.

“I was in the streets with violence, promiscuous females and drugs,” he said. “I used to hang out all day, smoke weed and drink.”

Jones, whose name has been changed here to protect his identity, heard some of his friends talk about Casey House in Niagara Falls, where troubled teens can go to find emotional assistance and shelter. The decision he made to go there changed his life.

“They helped me get away from that and helped me find a better road to go down,” Jones said of Casey House, at 710 Cedar Ave., which is run by the Family and Children’s Service of Niagara.

Kim Proch, program director at Casey House, described Jones as “a quiet young man” and said he’s fitting in quite well with the staff at the house.

“It’s hard for young people to trust who they don’t know, but he’s made good friends here,” she said. “He hangs out with us now.”

The goal of Casey House is to reunite homeless and runaway teens with their families or provide a safe alternative residence. They do so by guidance and encouragement instead of telling clients what they should do, Proch said.

Jones was encouraged to think more about the consequences of his choices.

“When he first got here, he wasn’t making very good decisions. Now he’s making better ones,” Proch said.

Jones said the guidance and encouragement was especially effective when dealing with parental issues.

“They encouraged me to analyze myself instead of pointing the finger at (my parents),” he said.

Casey House provides shelter and other services for as many as 600 young people ages 12 to 17 each year, according to Melanie Enders, the resident manager. Jones, who is 18 and no longer qualifies for shelter at the Casey House, said he still benefits from some of the services offered.

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