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Long IslandSuffolk

Huntington hotline for at-risk youth saved by grants, officials say

The town and a nonprofit provide funding for the Sanctuary Project after the unexpected loss of federal money.

A hotline service to aid at-risk youth has been saved thanks to a partnership between the Town of Huntington and the charitable organization The Townwide Fund of Huntington.

The hotline, a service of the Long Island Crisis Center, part of the town Youth Bureau’s Sanctuary Project, was unexpectedly denied a large federal grant that it had received for decades.

The town and the Townwide Fund each pledged $10,000 to fund the hotline service.

The 24-hour hotline, which handles about 300 calls a year, provides crisis counseling, referrals and information to youth and families.

Funding for the Sanctuary Project has been provided by the town, New York State Office of Children and Family Services, Suffolk County Youth Bureau and, for the past 39 years, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. But about a week and half ago, the Youth Bureau learned that it had been denied an extension of the federal grant, town and Townwide Fund officials said.

Gloria Palacios, executive director of the Townwide Fund, said officials were surprised when they found out the federal money was not going to continue.

“We had no idea,” she said. “We immediately got together and lots of emails went back and forth about the possibility of the hotline being closed, and we know it’s an important service to the young people in Huntington.”

Palacios said that within 48 hours, the agency was able to come up with a plan to save the hotline through the end of this year and 2018 with the grants. The Sanctuary Project will operate on a reduced basis, with funding from other sources, while officials undertake efforts to regain the federal grant.

The Sanctuary Project assists youth between the ages of 12 and 21 who run away or are at risk of running away from home by providing individual, family and group counseling, crisis intervention and referrals to short-term emergency housing or long-term independent living programs. The services are confidential and free for Huntington residents. The number is 631-549-8700.

“We thank the Townwide Fund for stepping in and joining with us to provide the emergency appropriation necessary to keep it going,” Huntington Supervisor Frank P. Petrone said in a news release about the partnership.

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