Safe Place network aims to help homeless, runaway kids in Elkhart County

Runaway and homeless children and teens looking for a safe place to stay in Elkhart County can now find help at a network of “Safe Places.”

The network is managed by Bashor Children’s Home through its Emergency Children’s Shelter. All Martin’s Super Market locations in Elkhart County and Elkhart Fire Department and Goshen Fire Department stations are part of the network.

“We get calls everyday for 911 from people who need assistance from us. This is another way people can come to us and get help without all the lights and sirens,” Elkhart Assistant Fire Chief Steve Kamp said during a press conference Tuesday afternoon. “We can still serve people like we would if it’s a 911 call.”

Homeless and runaway children can walk into any Martin’s location or Elkhart city and Goshen city fire stations and ask for help. “Safe Place” signs will be posted outside all participating locations. Staff members will call Bashor immediately and a representative will arrive within 30 minutes to take the child to Bashor’s emergency shelter.

Once there, Bashor staff will help that child find a safe place to stay long-term. That could mean going back home, staying with a close family member or friend or living on their own.

Bashor’s Emergency Children’s Shelter has served at least 90 kids and teens since it opened in 2016, and it expects to serve many more through the Safe Place network.

“We’re excited about this program because it’s an opportunity to serve,” said Martin’s President and CEO Rob Bartels. “To help people who need help.”