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Published: Tuesday, 2/14/2006

Grant will pay for an addition to youth facility

BY CLYDE HUGHES
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Executives at the Connecting Point, a prevention/intervention and treatment facility for troubled youths, didn't seem bothered at all to receive a Valentine's gift from U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur a day early.

Passing out Valentine stickers during a news conference yesterday, Miss Kaptur (D., Toledo) presented Connecting Point's director, Jeff Deckebach, and chairman, Keith Mitchell, with a huge Valentine's Day card and $200,000 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The money will be used to help renovate its facility at 1212 Cherry St., near downtown Toledo, and build a residential addition on its campus.

Mr. Deckebach said Connecting Point can shelter six children and leases 16 beds at Comprehensive Addiction Service Systems (COMPASS), a drug-treatment center. He said his agency also has access to 35 foster homes for children.

The addition, which Mr. Deckebach said he hopes will be up and running by the spring of next year, will have 35 beds - 25 for boys and 10 for girls - enabling Connecting Point to centralize more of its services.

Miss Kaptur, citing the need for better service for children suffering from mental illness and drug addiction, said the two often go hand-in-hand. She said she hopes the improvements and new building will better serve that young population.

Many children with mental illness are not diagnosed correctly, and their problems persist through adulthood, she said.

"Our community believes in the potential of every young person," Miss Kaptur said. "By securing a firmer foundation for them in the early years, we know we will save lives. We also will see the benefit of this critical life-saving facility providing at-risk youth the chance to grow into contributing members of society."

Miss Kaptur called on the community to help match the $200,000 federal grant. She said churches and other entities could provide money for the facility by sponsoring a bed or a child.

Mr. Deckebach said the Connecting Point is responsible for a lot of success stories and has seen some of the children who have passed through its doors turn their lives around and go on to college.

"They now see themselves a lot differently from what they did before," Mr. Deckebach said. "We have a terrific staff who I think work miracles. It can be very frustrating work and it can be thankless work."

Mr. Deckebach said some of his staff members have pledged money back to the Connecting Point, showing their own commitment.

"They are all social workers, so no one is going to get wealthy doing this work," he said.

Connecting Point offers a broad range of prevention, advocacy, and treatment services for children, youth, and families, the agency said. It is the treatment provider for youths whose cases are handled in the Lucas County Juvenile Drug Court.

Contact Clyde Hughes at:

chughes@theblade.com

or 419-724-6095.



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