The dedication of Christopher’s Room proves ‘good things do come out of evil.’
By Jason KUROSU
The applause was spirited at the Fire House youth center on Monday evening when a plaque was unveiled, just above the doorway of a room routinely populated by teenagers. The plaque read, “Christopher’s Room,” a tribute to Christopher McCulloch who, along with his friend Blaine Talmo Jr., was killed in 2000 at Valley View Elementary School, murdered by another youth.
It was McCulloch’s mother Aileen Bristow who helped bring the Fire House into existence. Located on the grounds of St. Luke’s of the Mountains Episcopal Church in La Crescenta, Bristow hoped the non-denominational Fire House would be a safe haven for young people.
Molly Shelton, a 2012 graduate of Crescenta Valley High and member of the Fire House Focus Group, spoke at the dedication about how much she and her peers felt a place for youth such as the Fire House was needed in the community.
“About three years ago, we got together to discuss problems in the area. One of the reasons for the drug and alcohol abuse was that there was nothing to do at all in this town. At all,” she repeated for emphasis, prompting laughter from those in attendance, who filled the newly anointed Christopher’s Room to capacity. “As a group, we decided that all we really wanted was a place to hang out.”
Since then, the Fire House has grown in its participation from teens and members of the community and in its efforts to keep kids off the streets. Bristow was asked to speak next, just before the room was officially dedicated to her son Christopher.
“Twelve years ago, exactly today, I was walking through the valley of evil,” said Bristow. “I spent a long time wondering how do you make something good come out of this. After all these years, a long time coming, but it’s here now. Good things do come out of evil. Through this center, I do believe that we will stop a lot more evil things from happening, with help from the community, law enforcement and the children themselves.”
In addition to the plaque, Michael D. Antonovich staff representative Rita Hadjimanoukian presented the Fire House with a certificate congratulating the Fire House for its service to the community and its dedication to Christopher’s memory.
“I’ve been to ribbon cuttings and dedications but never have I been so moved as I was today,” said Hadjimanoukian.
Reverand Bryan Jones of St. Luke’s said a prayer after the unveiling, voicing a hope for the youth that come to the Fire House and Christopher’s room now and in the future.
“May it be a place filled with as much light as Christopher’s passing was in darkness.”