NATIONAL REPORT—RLH Corporation is helping youth in crisis through a partnership with the National Safe Place Network (NSPN) to designate Americas Best Value Inn properties as a place of safety.
“National Safe Place Network is a program close to my heart and that of our organization, which is why this alliance with Americas Best Value Inn is important as it will create more locations for youth in crisis to have access to a quiet, safe place to text with a trained counselor for help,” said Greg Mount, president/CEO of RLH Corporation, the ownership company for Americas Best Value Inn.
The National Safe Place Network began in 1983 with the birth of the Safe Place program in Louisville, KY.
“Safe Place was created as the outreach effort of an emergency youth shelter, designating businesses and other public places such as fire stations, libraries and YMCAs with a large, yellow-and-black, diamond-shaped Safe Place sign,” said Laurie Jackson, president/CEO of National Safe Place Network. “Youth in crisis situations can go to a Safe Place site in their neighborhood or wherever they are located and get connected to help. A Safe Place representative responds, provides support and, if needed, transports youth to a shelter for additional help.”
The original Safe Place program flourished and spread across the country. Staff at the local YMCA agency began consulting with other agencies interested in Safe Place, licensing new Safe Place agencies, assisting with program implementation, and providing training and ongoing program support.
“National Safe Place evolved into a separate not-for-profit organization called National Safe Place Inc. and in 2013 merged with another national organization to become National Safe Place Network. The organization added a texting component in 2009 called TXT 4 HELP, and expanded this to an interactive texting service in 2012,” said Jackson.
Through this alliance with Americas Best Value Inn, the National Safe Place Network will expand to more communities while also promoting and encouraging the youth to use TXT 4 HELP sites, which are available in communities where a traditional Safe Place program is not available.
“As a CEO, I realize the immense opportunity and responsibility we have to help others in need and how a life can be changed with a single act of kindness,” said Mount. “If we become more intentional about protecting our children, just think about the impact we can make on their lives. Our actions, or lack thereof, are often the very things that can create our future and we, as leaders, have an obligation to do the right thing.
The support of Americas Best Value Inn, which is the organization’s first national hotel sponsor, is critical as it helps to expand the network’s reach and offer services in areas where youth need support.
“National Safe Place Network is currently working on a new strategic plan and goals to help accomplish our mission and vision of a world where all youth are safe,” said Jackson. “NSPN seeks to grow the Safe Place program, widening the safety net for youth through the development of new programs; expanding youth awareness of safe options available to them; and increasing utilization of TEXT 4 HELP.”
Mount added, “If we’re able to create a better future for children by providing them a safe place to seek help, the future can be a better place for everyone. I’m proud of our Americas Best Value Inn owners who have embraced this as an opportunity to support the young people in their communities.”