|Dayton Daily News - August 12, 2007
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
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