Kiwanis Club Hosts Fire House Founder

Martha Burns and Kiwanis President Chris Ecker presented Mary O’Keefe with a check for the Fire House youth center.
Photo provided by Kiwanis Club

The Kiwanis Club of La Cañada La Crescenta-AM recently invited Mary O’Keefe to speak to the members about the Fire House youth center, which is one of the ministries of St. Luke’s of the Mountains Church in La Crescenta. Both the church and former firehouse (from which the youth center gets its name) are made of stones mined from the nearby Angeles National Forest and built in 1924. St. Luke’s acquired the firehouse building in the 1950s. Over time, it served as Sunday school classrooms and also was a space for youth activities; however, it was reborn in 2010 as the Fire House youth center in response to a community heroin epidemic among local youth. The minister at the time described the Fire House as a place for all youth “whether they belong to our church, another church or no church at all.” It is open to teenagers from area schools at no cost.

The Fire House is a safe place for kids to go before and after school on select days and has a large fireplace and living room area, TV, pool table, air hockey, small kitchen and even a piano and guitar for students to play. It also provides classes such as Cars 101 and Cooking 101, and has hosted Girl Empowerment Day, which discussed everything from social media to nutrition. It plans to add more information seminars, like those focusing on finances and college application.

When COVID closed down the place, O’Keefe had a food bank erected outside the building, which still provides goods to those in need at no cost. Kids from the Foothill local schools can go there on Wednesdays from 7-9 a.m. for breakfast and on Thursdays from 7-9:30 p.m. for time to relax or play board games, socialize or even study. Prior to COVID, about 80-100 kids participated. Currently 50 kids – and counting – take part. The community supports the facility with donations, furnishings, food and, of course, volunteers.

The Kiwanis club presented O’Keefe with a $500 check for the Fire House youth center.