KMSB "Fox-11 Forum," Sunday, 8/1/10, 7:30 AM, & KTTU "In Focus," Sunday, 8/15/10, 10:30 AM

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By Bryce Potter By Bryce Potter

Host Bob Lee interviews Nancy Panico, Executive Director, Open Inn, Inc., Tom Rose, Director of Open Inn’s Transitional Apartment Living Program, and Shelly Weasel, an Open Inn “alum.”  Every 30 seconds in the U.S., a teenager runs away from home.  Tucson is second in the nation when it comes to the arrests of runaways. 

Panico says Open Inn’s mission is to empower children, youth and families to experience and develop positive self-worth.  She says this isaccomplished through a comprehensive array of services and activities designed to support young people as they transition from homelessness to self-sufficient adulthood. She says the majority of the teenagers coming through Open Inn’s doors are from Tucson and southern Arizona. She says services offered by Open Inn include street outreach programs, four transitional apartment living programs,six scattered site independent living programs and life skills training for all programs.

Weasel says she had to leave her home due to an abusive mother.  She says she “crashed” with friends for several months before becoming a client of Open Inn.  She says they transitioned her into a shared apartment which enabled her to keep working and to stay in school.  She says she will be attending Pima Medical Institute to become a certified medical assistant.  

Rose says the Transitional Apartment Living Program provides comprehensive supports and transitional housing for young adults, ages 16-18, who are forced to make a rapid transition to adulthood. He says the program provides on-site apartments, life skills training, case managements, and the support necessary to accomplish goals designed to reach self-sufficiency.  He says participants are expected to participate in an educational program, secure employment and attend life skills classes to ensure their successful future upon completion of the program.