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Stars Players Visit Family Place

by Julie Dobbs / Dallas Stars

The Dallas Stars season is now in full swing, and not only are the things getting going on the ice, but the Stars are already getting involved in the  community as well. Last week, Kari Lehtonen and Toby Petersen found some time after practice to take a trip out to the Family Place, a local non profit organization that provides assistance to victims of family violence. The Family Place provides a 24 hour hotline service, emergency shelter and counseling services for battered women, and a supportive living and transitional housing program for women and children. And now, the children living at the shelter can go to school every day without having to leave the comfort and safety of their new homes.

The Dallas Stars Foundation gave the family place a grant for $25,000 during the 2007-2008 grant cycle. This money was used to build and furnish a new school house at the shelter, and it was open for use just in time for the 2010-2011 school year. Paige Flink, Executive Director  at the Family Place, was thrilled with the donation, and happy to have the players come out and celebrate the occasion.

“Safety is so challenging with children in school, and to have the continuity of waking up, and not having to leave is so great, everybody and everything they need is right here. We have been wanting to do something like this ever since we opened 10 years ago.”

This new schoolhouse provides the students with a safe place to go to school and learn, just a few steps away from their rooms in the shelter. Upon arrival, Kari and Toby toured the facility, which houses over 200 victims of family abuse in furnished rooms and even  has 2-3 bedroom apartments for families to live in. Lehtonen was very interested in the cause, as he was very involved with community work when he was with the Thrashers.

“The Family Place is very similar to some of the charities that I worked with in Atlanta, it is a great place and a very worthy cause, and I am happy to be a part of something like this. It is great to see how happy these kids are after going through the types of things that they’ve been through.”

After the tour of the facility, the players were led outside to check out the “nature classroom” and then into the schoolhouse. Everything inside the schoolhouse was donated by the Dallas Stars Foundation, including desks, tables, chairs, and even the computers. The Dallas Stars are acknowledged with a logo on the wall in the entry way, and a framed stick and jersey in each of the classrooms.

Lehtonen and Petersen were greeted by a group of excited children, who welcomed them with a big “Thaaank you Dallas Starsss” shouted in unison.  The two NHL players joined them in the classroom, pulled up some child sized chairs to the craft tables, and had a little party in honor of the new facility. They decorated cookies with green and gold sprinkles, talked hockey, took pictures, and signed autographs.

All in all, it was a great day for The Family Place, and a great occasion for the Dallas Stars Foundation to see the benefits of their donation and how it is having a positive effect on children in the Metroplex.

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