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The Lutheran Community Services Young Adults in Transition Drop-In Center moves to bigger space

HOLLY SCHOLZ/CENTRAL OREGONIAN 
 - Lutheran Community Services Northwest hosted the Prineville-Crook County Chamber of Commerce Perk and Ribbon Cutting to celebrate the opening of the new location for the Young Adults in Transition Drop-In Center on Friday, Feb. 8. Pictured, chamber member Linda Manning, left, and Chamber Ambassador Chair Melanie Marlow hold the ribbon as YAT Coordinator Ashley Ludwig and Mental Health Director Laura Placek cut the ribbon.

The folks at Lutheran Community Services Northwest understand that the transition to adulthood comes with unique challenges.

That's why they provide guidance and community to help teens and young adults navigate the steps toward independence with their Young Adults in Transition Program.

Last Friday, Lutheran Community Services Northwest hosted the Prineville-Crook County Chamber of Commerce Perk and Ribbon Cutting to celebrate the opening of the new location for the Young Adults in Transition Drop-In Center.

"The goal is to support the youth who are transitioning between child-serving services to adult-serving services, especially foster care youth who maybe don't know what they're going to do once they're out of the system," said YAT Coordinator Ashley Ludwig.

Ludwig has worked with Peer Support Specialist Bonnie McMillan and the whole Child Youth and Family Team to open and operate the YAT Center.

HOLLY SCHOLZ/CENTRAL OREGONIAN 
 - An art display highlights the creations of the youths who use the YAT Drop-In Center.YAT provides people ages 14 to 24 a safe and supportive place where they can make connections that have a positive impact. They serve youth who are struggling with achieving independence, finding employment, and getting involved in their communities while promoting safety, health and wellness, and respect for self and others.

"Our YAT Center provides community-based services to underserved youth," Ludwig said. "Our focus will be connecting youth to resources while building skills for them to achieve independence and success in the transition to adulthood."

They officially opened the Young Adults in Transition Drop-in Center Sept. 5.

"These folks have been moved around a couple of times," said Crook County Mental Health Director Laura Placek. "They were at Court Street, then they were at the far east side of the building in the old physical therapy wing, and that room was really, really small — probably about a third of the size of this room."

HOLLY SCHOLZ/CENTRAL OREGONIAN
 - The YAT Drop-In Center is open to people ages 14 to 24, providing a safe space for youth and young adults to connect with resources and make friendships in a supportive environment.The new location, located in the basement of the old Pioneer Memorial Hospital where LCSNW now resides, most recently served as a conference room with a divider down the middle.

Last fall, the Crook County High School Leadership Team pitched in to help paint the YAT Drop-in Center a light shade of green.

"We promote safety first and fun a close second," Ludwig said. "Our goal is to make the Center a more inclusive and user-friendly space for the young adults we serve."

The Drop is packed full of video and board games, art supplies, snacks and supportive staff. The room features lounge chairs and couches, a pool table, computers, and a display of the youth's artwork.

Ludwig said they are also working on creating a clothing closet in their new space.

The Drop is open Wednesdays and Thursdays. Youth ages 14 to 17 are welcome from 3 to 6 p.m., and young adults ages 18 to 24 may visit from 9 a.m. to noon.

It is open to community youth, but they must complete an application and go through the safety policy on their first visit.

"We are ecstatic about the opportunity that this kind of space allows us and how many kids will be able to come here and do wonderful things in a place that's safe and nurturing," Placek said.

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