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National Safe Place

LindaRutherford Employee

It's a great place to work that will allow you to share your talents in the community with nonprofit organizations that help make things better. For the last three years, I've been serving on the board of National Safe Place, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to providing immediate help and resources to young people in crisis. They do this working with local shelters and social services agencies. National Safe Place was born out of a local program hosted by the Louisville, Kentucky, YMCA. Today, they have a vast network of shelters and social services agencies they work with. In 2007, the Safe Place program educated more than 560,000 youth on National Safe Place resources via presentations at their schools or in their communities. Last year, they also distributed nearly 800,000 Safe Place and National Runaway Switchboard informational cards, and established a presence on social networking sites, MySpace and Facebook.
This year marks the 25th Anniversary of this organization. I recently had a great opportunity to take part in "street team outreach" on a recent visit to Louisville. I went with Safe Place shelter counselors to the places where youth congregate at night (large city parks, skate parks, shopping center parking lots, etc). We handed out information on Safe Place and we talked about the services available in case anyone might be in crisis. At the skate park, it was interesting to watch the kids' reactions. At first a "mod squad" of adults coming at you makes you want to run the other way. But, we had coupons for frozen slushees, and that opened the door to more conversation. The counselors, who were approachable (they looked like teens, talked like teens, and one was nearly covered in many distinctive tattoos, each one with a story), used that opening to talk about Safe Place, where shelters are, and what help is available to someone who might need it.
As a board member, we are often updated on how Safe Place is making a positive difference in the community. The stories make you want to weep openly...just thinking about a child in crisis outrages me. A story from Nicole: "my family was one of the dysfunctional ones full of alcoholism and abuse. The police took me to Safe Place to get help. Safe Place listened to my concerns and believed what I had to say. They sent my entire family for evaluation and counseling. Eventually, as a result of Safe Place, I finished high school, earned my bachelor's degree and began working in a domestic violence prevention program." Or this from a case worker: "Alex first came to our shelter shackled as a referral from the police. Previously, he had been placed in a residential facility. Before Alex left the shelter, staff gave him an informational card with the shelter's contact information. The residential placement was unsuccessful, so he lived on the streets. After doing whathe had to do to meet his basic needs (selling crack), Alex decided that he had enough and wanted to try Safe Place again. He entered a Safe Place location in August 2007, where a trained volunteer picked him up. Today, Alex has transitioned from the shelter into an independent living program, where he is working on building a better future for himself."
Truly gut-wrenching stories. I'm proud of what Safe Place is trying to do. I'm proud I can serve on their board. I'm proud my Company lets me be involved and contribute.


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Promise House loves Southwest Airlines! For the past two years Southwest Airlines has donated a pair of tickets to our annual auction. We have bidders waiting for the donation to go online -- they sell for over value!!! Our bidders love flying on Southwest and at the same their auction purchase proceeds go to support runaway, homeless and at-risk teens in the Dallas area. Promise House provides free services to over 3,500 teens each year.
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I was thrilled when I read Linda Rutherford’s comments concerning her work with Project Safe Place and the difference the program is making in the lives of young people. I am the Executive Director of a nonprofit in Shelby County, Alabama and we have been a part of Project Safe Place for over thirteen years. I know firsthand the impact of the program because we operate a shelter for runaway and homeless youth and we provide street based services in neighboring Birmingham. We use the Project as a means to educate students about our shelters and where they are located, and the services that are available. For the past two years, we have been fortunate to receive a donation of Southwest Airlines tickets that we used in our silent auction to raise close to $2,000. The impact that Southwest Airlines has had in our community is that in 2007 over 100 adult volunteers assisted us in providing help for youth; 78.9% of youth receiving Project Safe Place service did not report further incidences of abuse; and over 10,000 students know where they can go to get help. Thank you Southwest Airlines – I’m nuts about you and the difference you are making in the lives of youth, families, and the community.
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Dear Linda, Thanks for posting this blog. Josh Abner from National Safe Place told us about it and we enjoyed reading your blog. It was great having you all come out with us. Thanks, Stacy
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It is the rare company that truly supports its employees giving back to the community. This is one of the many factors that makes Southwest great! I'm applying for a job with the company and I truly hope to become a part of this organization. Maybe when (always the optimist) I'm hired, I'll identify myself. For now, I'm just a major WN fan and a true airport geek.
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We hear lots about the fun, even zany antics at Southwest Airlines -- and of course, we all covet that great work environment! But I also like the fact that Linda's post "exposes" the more serious side of the Love Airline. It is great that the company creates a workplace that all workers enjoy ... and then beyond the walls, SWA supports the team when they volunteer to help so many others. Keep up the good work SWA! - D. Kent