First published in the Nov. 3 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.
The Kiwanis Club of La Cañada/La Crescenta-AM recently had Mary O’Keefe speak to the members about the Fire House Youth Center, which is one of the ministries of St. Luke’s of the Mountains Church in La Crescenta.
Both the church and former firehouse, which were built in 1924, are made of stones mined from the nearby Angeles National Forest. St. Luke’s acquired the firehouse building in the 1950s. Over time, it served as Sunday school classrooms and also for youth activities, but was “reborn” in 2010 as the Fire House Youth Center in response to a community heroin epidemic among local youth. The minister at the time described the Fire House as a place for all youth, “whether they belong to our church, another church or no church at all.” It is open to teenagers from area schools at no cost.
The house is a safe place for students to go before and after school and has a large fireplace and living room area, TV, pool table, air hockey, a small kitchen and even a piano and guitar for students. They also provide classes such as Cars 101, Cooking 101, and a Girl Empowerment Day, which discusses everything from social media to nutrition. They plan to add more classes, such as financial workshops and college application help.
“When COVID closed down the place, they had a food bank outside in front, which is still being provided,” a Kiwanis spokesperson said. “Kids from the Foothill local schools can come there on Wednesdays from 7-9 a.m. for breakfast and on Thursdays from 7-9:30 p.m. for time to relax or play board games or just socialize or even study.”
Prior to the pandemic, approximately 80-100 kids participated. Currently, it is used by about 50 students, but that number is steadily increasing.
The community supports the facility with donations, furnishings, food and volunteer time.
The Kiwanis club presented O’Keefe a $500 check for the Fire House Youth Center and $1,000 check for CVHS Prom Plus, which she also promotes.