Finding a Safe Place

Published 4:56 pm Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Bright yellow and black emblems scattered across Shelby County are meant to proclaim a sense of safety to passersby.

“The entire point is to allow young people to have access to safe locations,” said Family Connection Director Carol Williams. “Whether they experience abuse in the home or a dispute with their parents, they need a place to get help.”

Family Connection plans to recognize National Safe Place Week March 15-21 by promoting the Safe Place program in schools and thanking participating locations.

Safe Place’s 70 sites in Jefferson and Shelby County include everything from fire departments to grocery stores. Each location displays a bright diamond–shaped sign that reads “Safe Place” and includes an illustration of one person hugging another.

Williams said workers at each site are trained to call Family Connection should someone come there for help. Family Connection then calls a volunteer to meet the child. Williams said each of the more than 100 volunteers is trained in crisis intervention training. The volunteer visits with the youth and discusses what type of help they might require.

Tom Davidson began volunteering more than a decade ago.

“Most of them are real receptive when they realize we are not police officers, but just someone who cares for them,” Davidson said. “As volunteers we don’t have the knowledge or authority to tell them what to do, but we try to develop a trust so we can help them decide.”

Family Connection connected 341 youth to immediate help in 2008.

To recognize National Safe Place Week, the organization is partnering with Chelsea High School’s Peer Helpers who will host a morning broadcast about the program and put up posters around the school. To thank the sites, Family Connection will mail out thank you cards designed by a youth helped at a Safe Place location in another part of the country.

For more information, please contact Williams at 663-6301 ext. 208 or by e-mail at