PRIZM News–May 2, 2018
By Celina Nader
From food and clothing to art and basketball, the Columbus Center is a lifeline in Central Ohio.
“It’s the little things,” says Sarah Douglas as she greets me at the Star House check-in desk. She’s the volunteer coordinator at this homeless youth center—the only research-based drop-in center in the United States—but it’s clear upon spending just a few minutes with her that she wears more than one hat.
As she takes me on a tour through the building, each young adult she passes gives her a smile, updates her on something exciting in their life or gives her a giant hug. She plays an integral role here, especially as Star House grows. In 2017 alone, the Columbus facility served 996 different people, for a total of about 20,000 visits.
The center first opened its doors in October 2006 with funding from Ohio State University and a mission: research, teaching and service. Today, it functions as an independent nonprofit agency, but the mission remains consistent.
Star House provides Central Ohio’s homeless youth with a variety of resources, both creative and essential. The 14,000-square-foot facility nestled among industrial tenants of a business park between the Weinland Park neighborhood and I-71 houses a computer room, a gym with basketball hoops and equipment, a stocked kitchen, food pantries, a laundry room and racks of free clothes, a quiet room with books and reading chairs, a medical clinic, an expansive common room stocked with board games, and a beautiful art room.