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In Crisis Youth Hotline

A hotline service to aid at-risk youth, whose existence was threatened by the unexpected loss of a federal grant, will be able to continue, thanks to a partnership between the Town of Huntington and the charitable organization The Townwide Fund of Huntington.

The Town and the Townwide Fund have each pledged $10,000 to fund the hotline service, which is provided by the Long Island Crisis Center as part of the Town Youth Bureau’s Sanctuary Project. The Sanctuary Project assists youth between the ages of 12 and 21 who run away or who are at risk of running away from home by providing individual, family and group counseling, crisis intervention and referrals to short-term emergency housing and/or long term independent living programs. The services are confidential and free of cost for all Town of Huntington residents. 

The 24-hour hotline, which handles about 300 calls a year, provides crisis counseling, referrals and information to youth and families. This service is free, anonymous, confidential and available 365 days a year. 

Funding for the Sanctuary Project has been provided by the Town of Huntington, the New York State Office of Children and Family Services, the Suffolk County Youth Bureau and, for the past 39 years, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. However, the Youth Bureau recently learned that it had been denied an extension of the federal grant, a surprising move since a recent federal audit was so positive that the auditors said they wanted to use the Sanctuary Project as a model for other agencies.

The $20,000 provided by the Town and the Townwide Fund will keep the hotline operative. The remainder of the Sanctuary Project will operate on a reduced basis, with funding from other sources, while undertaking efforts to regain the federal grant.

“The hotline helps youth and families when they are most vulnerable, in crisis and desperate to find solutions. In providing steady, calm advice and effective referrals, the hotline helps defuse volatile situations and potentially saves lives. That is why keeping it in operation is crucial,” Huntington Supervisor Frank P. Petrone said. “We thank the Townwide Fund for stepping in and joining with us to provide the emergency appropriation necessary to keep it going.”

“We are so pleased to be able to move quickly to answer a serious need for our town’s at-risk youth,” said Vita Scaturro, Chair of the Grants Committee of the Townwide Fund of Huntington. “This is what we do–neighbors helping neighbors—and it is because of the generous spirit of our own donors that we can make a difference to the youth in our community.”

The Townwide Fund presented a check for its contribution to The Huntington Youth Development Research Institute, the Youth Bureau’s charitable arm, at a meeting in Supervisor Petrone’s office November 9. Joining the Supervisor in announcing the Town’s role were Council Members Susan A. Berland, Eugene Cook and Tracey A. Edwards.  

 The Townwide Fund of Huntington was founded in 1961 by a group of private citizens who wanted to help local charities raise funds. The organization’s essential mission was to keep money raised in Huntington within the community.  Now more than 50 years and $10 million later, The Townwide Fund continues to raise funds and award grants to give more than 30 local organizations the support they need to provide vital health and human services to the people of Huntington. 

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