Thursday, April 4, 2013
City House children’s shelter in Plano unveils new bike path
The 250-foot path winds around the recently built playground.
PLANO When Nancy Boyd and Kay Goodman were planting the seeds of City House in 1987, they could be forgiven for not imagining the amount of growth their organization would see in the next 25 years.
On Dec. 11, 1988, the opening day for City House's first teen shelter, only six residents called the shelter home. Today, the organization runs three homes housing 27 children and has seen thousands come through its doors.
"I feel like we've been so blessed -- blessed by the community," Boyd said. "Without the staff and their dedication and passion and the people and volunteers, this dream would have never unfolded."
The story of City House is something of a local legend. At the time, Boyd and Goodman were Plano ISD counselors. They knew some students were living out of their cars, and one girl could be seen bringing her clothes to school in a garbage bag, a telltale sign of teen homelessness.
"She just needed a place to go on Friday and Saturday nights, and that's where my heart was tugged to create a shelter," she said.
On Tuesday, the organization stuck another feather in its cap by unveiling the Andrea-Mennen Bike Path at My Friend's House, a shelter the organization has operated since 2009 for children up to age 17.
The 250-foot bike path winds around the shelter's playground, which was installed last year. It is named for the Andrea-Minnen Family Foundation, a group that has funded several City House projects and programs.
Rob Scihili, marketing and communications director for City House, said the foundation's Rudy Andrea suggested the bike path last June after seeing several children riding bicycles on the grass in the backyard. While the shelter often receives donations of used bicycles, its urban location means there are not many sidewalks for kids to ride on.
"All of us -- hopefully all of us -- have grown up lucky enough to have a good amount of friends in the neighborhood, and after school, after you do your homework, kids like to play," he said. "There's video games and TV at the shelter as well, but I think it just adds another element of real life."
Lisa Rodgers is director of volunteer services for City House and has been with the organization for nine years. Her office window faces the playground and bike path, and she often hears the sounds of children playing while going about her daily work.
"It's nice to hear kids being kids," she said. "So many times the kids have a lot of stress in their lives, and they don't get to be kids. It just kind of reiterates what I do."
Speaking to the crowd, Plano Mayor Phil Dyer said there are many things that make a city what it is, some more visible than others. He encouraged visitors to pay thanks to an organization that many in the city may not know about before issuing a proclamation in honor of City House's 25th anniversary.
"Our city is all the better thanks to City House," he said.
There are more than 1,200 homeless children in Collin County, with about 100 abused in the county every week, according to statistics provided by City House.
Construction on the playground started in December. Additional plans for the playground include trees and a tent for shading, Scihili said.
City House provides shelter to children and teens from Collin, Dallas, Tarrant, Rockwall, Denton and Kaufman counties. For information, visit http://cityhouse.org.
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