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Dayton Daily News - August 12, 2007

Family, friends look to good future for T.J.'s Place and the kids it helps

By Dale Huffman

Sunday, August 12, 2007

It is called T.J.'s Place and is operated in memory of a Centerville teenager who died much too soon.

Thanks to the parents of T.J. Whitehead and numerous volunteers who care, the recovery house has survived a major challenge and will continue to help turn around the lives of young people who need guidance and help.

A year ago T.J.'s Place was opened in a pair of old connected buildings on East Third Street.

The place of hope was opened in memory of Thomas Whitehead Jr., an 18-year-old Centerville High School graduate who died instantly in a single automobile crash in Trotwood.

A note he left behind convinced T.J.'s family that he had lost a battle with inner demons and took his own life, feeling he could find no other way to deal with growing addictions that included drugs and alcohol.

"Our son went through a lot," said his mother, Cheryl Crabtree. "We all supported him and worked with him trying to get help. He went to treatment programs. He was hospitalized. But he seemed to be trapped."

Those operating T.J.'s Place for a year on East Third Street found they had to move from the location.

"We were disappointed," said Debbie Godshall, a supporter of the project. "But perhaps this was meant to be. I think everything happens for a reason."

She said the organization moved in July into a space owned by Beerman Realty at 2231 Embury Park Road, just east of Triangle Park. "We appreciate their support," Godshall said.

T.J.'s mother added, "A year has gone by and the numbness has worn off. But I still feel the reality of what happened every day. It helps to keep focused on this project."

She said, "The old building provided a lot of healing and will always hold a special place in my heart. But I look forward to the new place and touching the lives of young people in a positive way."

Her former husband, Tom Whitehead, T.J.'s father, said he has a lot of confidence in the center's direction.

"There have been positive changes this past year," he said. "Kids are continuing to die due to issues with drug addiction, and that brings painful memories. But the new place of hope will continue to be a center where kids can be comfortable and can get help dealing with their issues."

Godshall, a family friend said, "I have seen the pain that Cheryl and Tom have gone through since T.J.'s death. I see the hope in their eyes when they are working at the center. They want to save young lives and to offer hope and solace to young people who are in a personal crisis."

Godshall said they have an attorney for the nonprofit center. "We have been blessed with help and support along the way from many who feel the need to offer hope to kids in trouble."

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spacer_25 WHO WE HELP spacer_25 HOW WE HELP spacer_25 T.J.'s Place of Hope
85 East Franklin Street
Centerville, OH 45459
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P.O. Box 750964
Centerville, OH 45475-0964
Tel: (937) 436-4673
 
EMAIL: contact@tjsplaceofhope.org
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