A Place To Go… is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization created out of a need to provide teenagers with sense of value and worth. Our mission is to create a fun safe environment, where teens can develop a sense of purpose and a positive connection with each other and the community. Through a structured activity program, teens will develop leadership skills, encourage and promote personal achievement, increase self-esteem and accomplish individual goals, all the while learning humility and giving back to the community.

History

A group of mom’s came together in 2011 to form A Place To Go… after seeing the lack of respect the unsupervised teenagers of Maple Shade had for themselves, each other, and the community around them. In the hopes of creating “A place to go” for teenagers these mothers erected a plan to construct an environment that equipped teenagers to make healthy decisions, find positive alternatives to risky behavior, build self-esteem and develop a growing sense of belonging to their community. A Place To Go…helps teens check in, not check out. .

Since our incorporation on April 11, 2011 A Place To Go… has been actively looking for a building, secured a gambling license, held fundraisers and attending events to promote our organization.
In February 2015 A Place To Go… partnered with Scott Arnauer the Principal of Maple Shade High School to create an afterschool program for 7th and 8th graders. The program was supported by Scott Arnauer, Beth Norcia the Superintendent, Nick Giannini the Maple Shade School Resource Officer, Sean Hasson Maple Shade Sergeant, and Maple Shade Captain Chris Fletcher along with the Maple Shade Police Chaplain’s. The goal of the program was to increase the level of engagement of our grades 7 and 8 students
It was provided by the Maple Shade High School that an increase in student participation in after school activities will have a profound effect on the overall success of those 7th and 8th grade students. Specific objectives of the program were: (1) Provide after school activities for our 7th and 8th grade students at Maple Shade High School in the areas of athletic games, art, technology and video gaming. (2) Decrease the number of conduct referrals, no credit status due to poor attendance, failing grades, and complaints and/or charges for the Maple Shade Police Department against juveniles. (3) Decrease free time after school for students who typically go home at 2:15pm and have nothing to do each afternoon in their neighborhood. This program was funded through a grant issued by The Burlington County’s 2016 Youth Services, which gets funding from the Juvenile Justice Commission. The program ran from September 2015 to June 2016, the Burlington County Freeholders desire to target individuals already in the juvenile delinquency program, A Place To Go…’s primary focus is prevention before Juvenile delinquency.
Much to our surprise our teenage participate numbers continue to rise up to the high 60s. Due to the limited space of being in the high school and other circumstances beyond our control, we were unable to run the program in those great numbers. Therefore, we reconstructed our program and reopened our doors at the beginning of the calendar year 2016 with pin point plan of serving 25 students, with the target population being those who are not involved with any after school affiliated club or activity. On Tuesday’s and Thursday’s from 2:15 – 4:15 the students are engaged in encouraging productive activities ranging from homework time to gaming time to special speakers. Elevation Education presented and trained the students on how to stay focused, take better notes, and recall the information faster for tests. These sessions were lively and fun, and the students learned concepts without feeling as though they were in school.

Accomplishments:

A Place To Go… Afterschool Program: With great success and numbers growing into the 60’s within our first month, we quickly realized that we were meeting our goals. By keeping teenagers in a safe, supervised, caring environment with enriching activities we prevented risky and self-destructive behaviors and supported overall youth development. When teenagers are shown value, they begin to learn how to value themselves, others and the community in which they live. “The program helps teens stay on the straight and narrow and make good decisions. It keeps the teens at school instead of at home with no supervision. A lot of these teenagers are home alone for 3 to 4 hours a day leaving a lot of idle time to make bad choices. Having an after-school program gives teens a better choice”, said Maple Shade Police Capt. Chris Fletcher.
Michelle Haynes, Assistant Principal of the Maple Shade High School sang the praises of the program pertaining to the attitude changes that she noticed from the students attending the after-school program. With the strong backing from the Maple Shade High School we know that prevention is the key! It is our goal to get teens early and redirect them if necessary and give them positive experiences that offer an alternative to bad behavior that could potentially land them in trouble with the law. Deacon Michael Stinsman one of the Chaplin’s on the Maple Shade Police Force, when talking about A Place To Go.. reminisced about being part of a program for teenagers when he was a young lad that really changed his life and set him up for successes rather than disappointments.
What measures the success of an after-school program? The obvious answer, when the teenagers come back! This by far was A Place To Go’s… biggest accomplishment. Jahir Barrett a former 7th grader wrote a thank you note to A Place To Go… thanking the staff for “everything you have done for the program. We will all miss you this summer. I really can’t wait to see you next year. This is the BEST thing ever.” Letters upon letters of this nature flooded A Place To Go’s… mailbox