Ozanam Addresses Runaway Issue at CID Meeting
By Kathy Feist
On the heels of a well publicized missing child report, Ozanam announced new safety measures at the latest Martin City Community Improvement District (CID) meeting held Thursday, September 6th, at Jess and Jim’s Steakhouse, 517 E. 135 St.
Ryan Dowis, Chief Operating Officer at Cornerstones of Care, which is Ozanam’s parent organization, said the organization would be investing in better security such as cameras and motion detector lighting, increased staffing from 2-10 pm (afterschool hours), and increased training for staff.
Ozanam is a residential treatment center for children with behavioral and emotional problems and learning disabilities. The center, located off 137th and Holmes Rd., has no fencing or security measures to keep children from leaving the campus. The highly publicized missing child case of 15-year-old Zachary Deutsch in June drew attention to the number of runaways at the center. Deutsch was found a few days later in a nearby abandoned house.
Ozanam is a temporary home for 75 teens who have experienced abuse and neglect. Some are dealing with substance abuse. Others have challenging behaviors in school.
In an interview with the Telegraph, Cornerstones of Care CEO Denise Cross, says throughout its history the organization has avoided restrictive security such as fencing or security officers “The safety of our kids is a top priority,” explains. “But we are not a detention center. We are not a lock down.”
Instead, allowing the same freedoms as one would expect from a family home is part of the healing strategy for these children.
“Those who are brought here have trust issues. Adults have let them down,” explains Cross. “They are used to taking care of themselves.”
“We try to make them feel safe. So our job is to help them understand trauma and the impact of their behavior so they can trust adults again and won’t feel the need to elope when those feelings are triggered.”
Cross says when a child does elope there are repercussions. “Privileges or activities are taken away. But mainly we help the child understand what led up to this. How best to respond and with what strategies are in place.”
Typically, the youth does come back, says Cross.
Many children who have received care from Ozanam go on to lead successful adult lives. Those successes are showcased at Cornerstones of Care Spirit Gala, which this year will be held November 10. Contributing financially is one way to help Ozanam increase the safety of its residents. To find out more, go to cornerstonesofcare.org.
Other CID News
Bike racks will be installed at three different places in Martin City: one at Martin City Crossfit, one near the street in front or RC’s, and another in front of Jess and Jim’s.
Rosehill landscape architect Jason Opheim provided information on the Phase III landscaping along 135th Street. Four more flower poles will be added east of the train tracks. Landscaping at Wornall and 135th St. will change from greenery to hardscape due to the poor effect of heavy traffic on the current plants there. Trees will be planted along 135 Street from Iverness to 150 Hwy.
After a year, Reno’s Powersports has finally received its occupancy permit from the city for its new warehouse.
The Martin City Holiday Lighting Ceremony has been set for Friday, November 16.
The Martin City St. Patrick’s Day Parade will be held on March 10. In a new twist, the Whiskey Run will not be held on the morning of the parade, but will instead be held March 24.