GREENFIELD — Thank-you cards surrounded the centerpieces at Tuesday night’s Landing Place Luau.

One card, written by a young adult who has attended support groups at the organization, wrote, “You’ve given a beautiful place to be accepted and loved. It means so much to me.”

That message of love and acceptance echoed throughout the evening as nearly a dozen people spoke about the organization’s impact in the community, including hospital administrators, local pastors, law enforcement officials and leaders and members of the Landing Place groups.

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The inaugural event at Adaggio’s Banquet Hall, which drew some 200 people sporting their best Hawaiian shirts and raising some $34,000, supported the downtown Greenfield organization that pairs worship with a recovery program for the troubles teens face, including addiction, anger, depression and anxiety or family problems.

Several of Tuesday night’s speakers detailed their experiences with the Landing, 18 W. South St., and why they chose to work with the organization.

Amy Ikerd, court treatment specialist for Hancock County Probation Department, said she was skeptical when founder Linda Ostewig requested she refer young people to the organization. She has high expectations for any agency she refers people on probation to for help, she said, and she worried the group’s Christian basis would present ethical problems.

When she attended a Wednesday night meeting about four years ago, she was surprised by what she saw — a group of nearly 50 young people invested in the program and its leaders.

The troubled teens she works with often feel they’re not welcome at school, at church, sometimes even in their own homes, she said. The Landing makes young people feel at home, no matter what their faith background is, Ikerd said.

Pastor Mark Wright of Brandywine Community Church said the nonprofit’s unique reach is able to transform the lives of a group of young people in need of support and unconditional love. Students often first arrive at the Landing Place feeling unlovable, but they walk out the doors of the downtown Greenfield facility knowing they’re cherished, he said.

Wright encouraged the community to work together to support the nonprofit through donations, volunteering and prayer.

“We can accomplish more together,” he said. “Snowflakes are frail, but when they stick together, they can stop traffic.”

Founder Linda Ostewig reminded attendees of the Landing Place’s tagline, “A place to be real.”

“It’s a safe place for people to feel like they’re loved and not judged,” she said. “They need to feel like they belong somewhere. The Landing becomes a home for them, and I think that’s why it continues to grow.”

The organization’s focus on establishing recovery tactics helps teens grapple with adult challenges, especially addiction or loving a person who faces addiction.

She recounted several situations of stressed and panicked parents calling or visiting the Landing Place to find out more information about how to help their children.

She remembered one mother who brought her two daughters, both using drugs, to the Landing for help. When she walked them through the programs offered, the mother suddenly leaned forward and began to sob in relief.

“It’s hope,” she said. “It’s giving them hope.”

If you go

The third-annual Ashley Burton Recovery Walk, a collaboration among the Landing Place, Talitha Koum Recovery House and Hancock County Probation Department. All proceeds will be distributed to the Landing Place and Talitha Koum Recovery House.

Time: 9:30 a.m. to noon Sept. 23

Place: Hancock County Courthouse plaza, 9 E. Main St.

Tickets: $25 or $20 for a group of four or more

Register: talithakoum-for.org.

Information: Linda Ostewig at 317-477-8483, thelanding4teens@gmail.com or thelandingplacehc.com.

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Rorye Hatcher is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at ​317-477-3211 or rhatcher@greenfieldreporter.com.