Area youth center moves into new facility

Construction on the new headquarters for the LeFlore County Youth Services is completed and a new director has taken the reins. The new 7000-square-foot facility houses not only the LCYS offices, but also the emergency children’s shelter. In the past, LCYS headquarters had been based out of the DIAL building on Dewey Avenue in downtown Poteau and the emergency children’s shelter had been based out of the Reed House near Pansy Kidd Middle School.The new facility includes space for all LCYS office, meeting rooms, and records as well as boys and girls dormitories for up to eight children complete with its own kitchen and dining areas, common area, and laundry facilities. The facility offers emergency shelter services, counseling services, Community at Risk services, graduating sanction, first-time offender programs and many non-funded services such as Missing Children’s program, the Summer Recreational program and the Adopt-an-Angel program.The cost of the new facility is in excess of $800,000 and the majority of those funds have been raised by donation. During the past 30 years, LCYS had managed to gather $300,000 for the new building, but that construction was jump started by a $100,000 donation from Pam and Steve Holton. Additionally, the property for the building had been donated to LCYS by the City of Poteau.The youth services was founded in 1974 after a steering committee had been put together with the aim of providing an alternative to jail for teens. That same year, LCYS started their first funding and opened an emergency shelter. Since then, LCYS has seen 6,087 children spend 39,166 days in the care of LCYS, the average stay being just over six days.As a not-for-profit agency, LCYS is governed by a board of directors made up of 15 people from all walks of life in LeFlore County. The board seeks to guide LCYS in its mission to be an advocate for the youth and families in LeFlore and Haskell counties and to serve the needs of the youth and families of Oklahoma by adequately implementing services needed. In its last evaluation by the Oklahoma Association of Youth Services, LCYS received a perfect score. LCYS does not charge its clients for services, operating by donation only. With the opening of the new facility, long-time director Rick Couri announced his retirement. Couri was the first and only director at the facility until his last day, 39 years after he began. Terri Krebs was named the new director upon Couri’s retirement. She began at LCYS in 2009 as a behavioral health rehabilitation specialist. In January 2011, Krebs was named assistant director until her appointment as director in December. Krebs graduated from Poteau High School in 1993 and is a life-long resident of Poteau. She attended college while working for Carl Albert State College. She obtained a bachelor’s degree in technology from Rogers State University and later received a master’s in education and school counseling from Eastern State University. Krebs is responsible for the daily operations of LCYS and supervising 12 full-time employees and five part-time employees. She is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the emergency shelter and ensuring that those residing at the shelter receive the care they need. “We have several services we provide and we are trying to get that information out to the public,” said Krebs. “We have new shirts designed that list all the programs and we are communicating with the school to make sure they are aware of the programs. We have a new fundraiser coming up in October. It will be a costume masquerade ball and it will be our building fundraiser to help us pay the new facility off.” Krebs said her goal this year is to try and raise the money to make the facility debt free.