OGDEN — Contrary to popular belief, teacher Debbie Rowe and the rest of the staff at the Archway Youth Service Center aren't just baby sitters for kids who come through the doorways of the youth shelter.
"Some people may just think I am baby-sitting, but the kids are really challenged," said Rowe, the only teacher at Archway's school next-door to the shelter. "I hold them very accountable for what they learn."
Savannah, a former resident who frequently revisits the shelter, attests to the difference the staff has made in her life.
"I feel like I've built a strong relationship with the staff, and I like to come back and update them on how I am doing," said Savannah, who asked to be identified only by her first name. "This is my old house. They're always a support to me."
The shelter at 2660 Lincoln Ave. is a home away from home for many youths like Savannah who had never before experienced normalcy in their lives.
Youths who frequent the shelter range from those who are in drug court, to foster kids waiting for placement, to kids whose parents are abusive or unable to take care of them for a period of time.
That said, it's important for the kids to be able to find a safe haven where they can act like an everyday child or teen, said Don Noseworthy, who supervises the center's residential shelter.
"The shelter is designed to be a therapeutic and structured environment," Noseworthy said. "It's important to these kids who are dealing with so many issues."
Along with creating a friendly environment in which the kids can thrive, the shelter offers its residents the tools to be independent through improved communication and social skills.
"We teach kids how to interact in society," Noseworthy said.
For Rowe, the discouragement and sacrifice that come with the territory of the job are well worth it when taking into account the potential of the youths she assists.
"I think they've been impacted and go on to do a lot of good things," she said. "I've really loved the kids."
For more information on services, programs and activities provided by the Archway Youth Service Center, call 801-778-6520.