ree House reorganized, revived, growing
A year and a half ago, the Tree House was hanging low.
In August 2007, the nonprofit organization was forced to close its shelter in Grand Junction for homeless youth. After two years of life, Tree House simply could not meet expenses, even though the home, according to its new director, had helped get 200 teenagers off the streets.
It was one of just two shelters in the state for homeless youth.
“To run an 18-bed shelter costs approximately $2,500 a month,” said Cody Moore, executive director of Tree House. “It was a very expensive endeavour.”
When it closed, many thought that was the end of Tree House in this town. Far from it. Tree House instead has been thriving, quietly, serving hundreds of teens in the Grand Valley. And now it is expanding.
The organization, which was founded in 1999, returned to its original mission of providing after-school activities to teens.
“The Tree House is on pace to serve more youth than we ever have in the history of our organization,” according to the most recent Tree House e-newsletter, available on its Web site: http://www.treehousegj.org.
“This year we are busting at the seams,” said Moore, who was hired last summer “to lead Tree House in a new direction.”
Tree House has three main programs, all focused on after-school activities for youth. The Kids Kabana program operates out of West and Redlands middle schools and Tree House offices at 1505 Chipeta Ave. The program serves about 300 youth, but is seeking to reach many more.
“We have plans to open a fourth site in Clifton, location to be determined,” Moore said.
A bistro program, for high school and college-age youth, has a coffee shop and recreation center that serves as its base. It serves about 400 youth a year and offers a place for them to hang out daily as well as a facility for events such as swing dancing, book clubs and open microphone nights. Tree House intends to expand this operation as well.
“We are hoping one day to be able to expand this program to a commercial location, a high-traffic location, to make it a fully functioning retail coffee shop,” Moore said. “Then we can add a work force development side to it. ... Then begin to teach entrepreneurial and business skills.”
Tree House recently merged with the F.A.C.T. Foundation. F.A.C.T. stands for Foundational Advice Concerning Teens, which preaches abstinence until marriage and assists teens with relationship issues. It is taught throughout the county from the Job Corps in Collbran to charter schools in the valley, Moore said.
“The Tree House exists to provide prevention, youth services,” Moore said. “It is a lot easier to prevent a problem than fix a problem.”