The Firehouse Youth Center
Open Tuesday from 6pm-9pm for high school students
Open Thursday from 6am- 8am for middle school students
The Firehouse is the center of one of our most important missions. The Firehouse is used a meeting center and safe house for local middle schoolers and teens. The Firehouse is open several nights per week to serve as a safe place for teens to hang out, do homework and share fellowship. The Firehouse also serves a pancake breakfast once a week, on banking day, to middle schoolers who attend nearby Rosemont Middle School. This breakfast regularly serves over 100 students.
HISTORY OF THE FIREHOUSE
The possibility of using the old Fire Station 19 that was on the lower end of the church’s property as a youth center was proposed to the Diocese even before the church came back to the Episcopal’s and the new minister, Fr. Bryan Jones, was officially named. The CV area had been suffering from a heroin epidemic months before the church changed hands. A teenager had died from an overdose, several others had been hospitalized. Burglaries were increasing and an increasing number of students were being expelled from school. All of this was something the community had not seen before, or since. The CV Drug and Alcohol Prevention Coalition was created by Glendale police officers, parents of kids who were addicted to heroin and a reporter who covered the increase in heroin use. The Coalition was divided into sections including law enforcement, counseling, parent education and youth. The youth leader gathered several teens together and asked them what they wanted, which was a place to just be kids. The youth committee chair, who was the reporter and a former member of St. Luke’s congregation, reached out to St. Luke’s to ask if they could use the small stone structure and if they would partner with the Coalition on a youth center. The Diocese was not only open to this idea but supported it. Fr. Jones got to work on his first day at St. Luke’s with members of the youth and the Coalition. For several months the committee met with community leaders, teens, counselors, religious leaders at St. Luke’s, law enforcement and the fire department. The Fire House opened nine years ago. Its rules have been made by the youth that attend. Over its history it has held several events for the community youth, including Girl Empowerment Day, college nights, resumé building, and art classes.
As a mission of St. Luke’s of the Mountains, the Fire House has been able to reach kids that normally would not enter a church, or even a youth center. The youth center has been a place where kids feel safe, and in fact was the first Safe Place in La Crescenta. Safe Place is a nationwide program that helps kids who are in immediate need. The mentors at the Fire House have partnered with law enforcement, the fire department, Glendale school district, veterans, Boy and Girl Scouts, and many more in the community on a variety of events. But the most important function of the Fire House is to be a place where kids can feel safe and not judged. When the school district had proposed to no longer have open lunch, meaning kids had to stay on campus, many kids did not agree that would be the best choice. The Fire House invited the Asst. Superintendent of Schools to a meeting and over 150 kids came with google maps and a lot of research to make their case. They did and the school campus is still open during lunch. A survey after the discussion showed that kids felt their views had been respected by the Fire House mentors, and felt safe to face the school’s administrators without fear.
It is that type of self-esteem building the Fire House has worked toward. Soon after the Fire House opened its doors, the Coalition changed leadership and they no longer supported the youth center. It was picked up by the former member of St. Luke’s and mentors from the community who volunteered hours every week to keep the youth center open.
A member from St. Luke’s congregation had heard that a church that hosted special needs students from 18 to 26 years old in a church youth group was closing. The member immediately offered to open the Fire House for this amazing group of young adults that are now called the Cool Group. These kids are Fire House kids. They are recognized by mentors and kids, and all are accepted.
One of the highlights of the Fire House came from a group of Fire House skaters. They complained they had been stereo-typed and wanted the community to see they weren’t bad kids but just liked skateboarding. Mentors at the Fire House asked them what they wanted, they said their own Crescenta Valley skate park. From that point on they formed a committee, the leaders reached out to the community getting letters of support from the Town Council, Chambers and Shopping Parks. They worked with the LA County Parks and Recreation and the Supervisor’s office. They held community meetings, created a written plan, went to every skate park in LA and Ventura Counties and designed their park. It took several years, and the kids never gave up but in the end the LA Parks and Rec was awarded $1.2 million dollars and the skate park, the Fire House kids designed was built. It is at the CV Park and is very popular.
That is what the Fire House does best. Kids are part of every decision made at the Fire House. They are respected and heard, and always know that the mentors have their back.
The Fire House is planning more events like an upcoming Resumé Building night, partnering with Crescenta Valley High School PTSA, and a Girl Empowerment Day. The youth center is also responding to a request from a high school freshman and planning a spiritual night to add to its schedule.