Morehead shelter launches Safe Place program for teenagers

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MOREHEAD, Ky. (WTVQ)- An Eastern Kentucky emergency shelter has launched the first teen crisis program in the region.

Morehead, Kentucky is a quiet college town of just under 8,000.

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“Small town, knowing everybody. But it’s a welcoming town,” Teresa Forman, Director of Mountain Haven Emergency Shelter, said.

Some might think of Morehead as a town with very few homeless young people, but

“There were 623 in Rowan County last year that was classified as homeless and that did not include couch surfing or staying with a relative,” Forman said.

That’s why Forman says she decided to launch the Safe Place Program.

“Safe Place helps out youth and they don’t have to be runaways or homeless. Maybe they’ve been, they’ve gone on a date and the date went bad and they need someone to help them get back home,” Forman said.

Signs placed around town let teens know those businesses are a safe place for them to go in and ask for help.

“I think it’s a good thing because, like, what if some people don’t have anyone and they need someone to talk to. They can feel safe talking to people meant for that reason,” Riley Wilburn said.

Forman says so far she has close to a dozen local businesses on board with the program.

“There’s a lot of kids that really need people that they’re not really related to that they can go to and talk to and just come dine or eat and I thought that was perfect for us,” Malesa Jones, the Area General Manager at Fazoli’s, said.

Not everyone has been as welcoming.

“We would go and talk and we would say, you know we’re here for kids who have run away, but they were taking it in the context of, ‘You’re telling kids to run away and come to your shelter.’ No, we’re not,” Forman said.

Forman says she’s still working to correct that misconception, but hopes eventually every business in Morehead will be a safe place.

“I believe it’s just a matter of time that we do it slowly. You don’t push things on people. You let them see that it works, Forman said.