More than eight years ago the staff at Keystone Substance Abuse Services saw a rise in problem teenagers.
Keystone was getting more referrals from the court system for teen substance abuse, as well as from parents and schools.
“The numbers are scary,” said Janet Martini, Keystone’s executive director.
The nonprofit agency that serves York County knew from experience that more teen interaction was needed. Statistics show one in five persons ages 18 to 25 are likely to have a substance abuse problem, double that of the overall population. The problem is worse for teens, whose brains are still developing, Martini said.
The key, Martini said, is “catching them at an early age before they have a lifelong process they will struggle with.”
At a luncheon on Tuesday, Keystone announced it will fulfill its goal of having a standalone Youth and Adolescent Center, thanks to the Good Folks of York County.
Good Folks, a group formed to raise funds for worthy causes, raised more than $75,000 to help break the addictive cycle of substance abuse among teens.
Keystone will use the donations from Good Folks to outfit its new Youth and Adolescent Center on Herlong Court. Keystone purchased the building with $1.5 million in state funds and will use the money raised by Good Folks to buy desks, computers and other furnishings.
Keystone was one of 10 agencies that applied for assistance from Good Folks this year. Keystone has previously applied and this year was one of three finalists selected by the Good Folks board.
Sula Pettibon, the 2014 chairwoman for Good Folks of York County, said the group chose the Keystone application because the new center addresses a widespread issue that threatens to destroy the very fabric of young lives, their families and the community.
Martini said the donation will allow Keystone to open the doors to the center soon, hopefully by summer or fall before the school year begins.
The center will offer a variety of programs to help teens with substance abuse problems.
“Our goal is to create a safe place for them,” Martini said.
The center will serve both children and their parents.
One of the key aspects of treatment, Martini said, is identifying stressors causing problems – and the strengths to overcome them.
At Tuesday’s banquet a grandmother who sought Keystone’s help, described how her 15-year-old grandson changed.
As an eighth-grader he got good grades, played baseball and “was always a great kid,” she said.
In ninth grade, “things changed,” she said. He didn’t make the high school baseball team and was arrested for marijuana possession
“I realized baseball would not be the only heartache he would have,” the grandmother said.
Keystone counselors, she said, not only helped her grandson, but helped her understand addictions. Her grandson changed his habits with the strength being his love for baseball, Martini said.
“He is now the sweet child I always knew he was,” the grandmother said.
Martini said such events are “the miracles I happen to see every day.”