In honor of National Runaway Prevention Month this November, Clovis Transit’s entire fleet of 30 buses recently joined the growing list of Fresno County Safe Places associated with Fresno County EOC’s Sanctuary Youth Center.
On behalf of the youth center, which works with preteens and teens ages 12-18 in the midst of difficult circumstances, sanctuary director Michelle Tutunjian presented a plaque to Amy Hance, the general services manager for the city of Clovis, at the Nov. 6 Clovis City Council meeting. The council also gave a proclamation recognizing National Runaway Prevention Month.
“I’m excited to be here to announce the partnership between Clovis Transit and Fresno County EOC Sanctuary Youth Shelter, with the designation of every Clovis transit bus as a Safe Place,” Hance said. “Clovis transit is proud to join the network of over 270 community safe places. Each of our buses will carry the distinctive yellow and black shaped Safe Place sign. Should a young person need assistance ,they need only to board a bus and let the driver know that they need help.”
The Safe Place program is administered by Fresno County EOC Sanctuary staff. The sanctuary is a 24-hour emergency shelter for runaway, homeless, exploited or otherwise displaced youth. The shelter provides a hot meal, clothing, crisis intervention, case management and family reunification when appropriate.
Sanctuary Outreach Manager Joe Martinez said it has been the center’s mission to give youth a safe place to turn for 25 years and the sanctuary shelter helps protect runaway, homeless and otherwise displaced children by meeting their basic needs. Unfortunately, Martinez said not all youth can reach the shelter in a time of crisis, this the need for Safe Places throughout the community that can provide a temporary haven for youth immediately and get them connected to the shelter.
“Since 1997, our sanctuary has operated the Safe Place program in partnership with the National Safe Place network and we are very happy that the transit system here in Clovis has designated the entire fleet of 30 buses ready to respond to any young person in need of help and safety,” Martinez said. “Communities across the nation have recruited local transit companies to become involved as Safe Places. Buses and other transit vehicles have been designated as mobile Safe Place sites and the city buses are becoming ideal as Safe Space locations.
“Bus routes include areas where other Safe Place locations may not even be available. Buses are familiar and they are non-threatening locations for our young people. Because they are easily accessible, buses assist youth seeking immediate help and they quickly get youth connected to helpful professionals.”