ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Imagine yourself as a teenager with a rough home life. Where would you go if you were kicked out? What if your family can’t afford to eat? A newer organization in town is providing a safe, nurturing ‘drop-in’ environment for Abilene teens in need. CitySquare is a place where kids can go to do homework, get a hot meal, or just get away to a safe space.
“It opens up… A door opens up for you to socialize and get your social status up a little bit so you can meet people and know people,” said Joseph Newton, a local homeschooled high school junior.
Jasman Redwine, a junior at ATEMS, told KTAB/KRBC, “They like love you like you’re their own kid, and they might be hard on you about your schoolwork, but it’ll help you in the long run.”
Although neither Joseph nor Jasman go to school together, they were able to meet up through CitySquare Abilene.
“CitySquare Abilene came about after some passionate community members were searching out a need and a gap to help housing insecure teenagers in our city,” explained CitySquare’s director, Ben Siburt.
Based out of Dallas, CitySquare first looked to expand to Abilene in November of 2021. The social services organization eventually took over Abilene’s old American Classified building in July of 2022.
Members of the community wanted a safe and positive environment for teens and students during the evening hours. Students are referred, either by their school district or a trusted adult. Then, the teenager will be able to utilize what CitySquare has to offer every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.
“We really focus on three main areas,” Siburt explained. “One is providing basic needs; so, food clothing, connection to a safe place to stay if you need that. We also focus on a positive path forward, so connection to mentors or any type of therapy that you may need, or healthcare services. The other piece is, we really focus on hope and inspiration, like helping them imagine a better tomorrow, and also help them manage the challenges of today.”
Organizers encourage that CitySquare is also a space for kids to just be kids. There are games, chores, an indoor half basketball court, and even a music room with a full set of drums. All these amenities are used to help provide some sort of normalcy for the teens who need it.
However, the organization can’t do it alone. Siburt continued, “We are able to provide these services through the generosity of people in Abilene. If you’re passionate about helping us to support these students, we’d encourage you to reach out to us, and in that discussion, we can figure out the best way to support them. That may be a meal, or clothing, or something along those lines, but we can help facilitate that.”
Tap here to learn more, donate, or look into becoming part of the CitySquare team.