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Teens and their mentors renovating former drug house to help youth

The Isaiah 117 House on North Exeter Street will serve as a safe transitional home for children awaiting foster care placement.

INDIANAPOLIS — Some local teens have been recruited to help renovate a house that will help other kids going through rough times. 

One of the teens involved is high school freshman Mehki Reeves. He got a firsthand look Friday at all the work ahead of his biggest community service project ever, that will become a lifeline so many young people.

Reeves and one of his mentors helped Sarah McDaniel remove boards from the doors at the future home of the Isaiah 117 House. The North Exeter Street house will serve as a safe transitional home for children awaiting foster care placement. Reeves and other teens have been recruited to help with the remodel and will converge on the house Monday afternoon. 

McDaniel serves as the coordinator for Isaiah 117 House. She met with Reeves and his mentor at the house to give them a preview of what's in store for next week. 

"So what you guys are going to be doing is coming in with hammers and crowbars and pulling a lot of that off. You'll have masks," she said.

Credit: WTHR
Sarah McDaniel and Mehki Reeves discuss the project at Isaiah House 117.

Reeves and other youth work crews doing community service will be paired with players from the Butler University men's basketball team. 

McDaniel has big dreams about the inside and outside of Isaiah 117 House. For so long, the same location has robbed the neighborhood of its peace and safety that reconstructing it into a safe place for kids will benefit so many people and families. 

"It's going to be something that gives back to the community," said McDaniel. 

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Reeves' mentor, Eric Rhodes from the New Boy Mentoring Program, gave him a tour outside and schooled him on the importance of community service. They are trying to develop within their program a community service part that will inspire young people to be involved in the place they call home and beyond. 

"Any kind of place like that we can go to get our boys out in the community to give back," Rhodes said.

Out of all the things Reeves learned will happen at the Isaiah 117 House, it's probably what McDaniel told him happened at the house in the past that got his attention the most.

"What this house was, was a place for drugs, prostitution and there's been murders here," said McDaniel. 

"I don't really know what goes on around here," said Mehki Reeves, "I didn't know this was a drug house."

RELATED: Second Chance Program to give troubled youth an opportunity to start over

There are other existing Isaiah 117 houses in other states. McDaniel is thankful that Impact Fairfax Christian Church donated the house, which was once considered the worst address in the neighborhood. The church is located behind the house and shares a property line.

Credit: WTHR

"This is an example of how God can take something that was used for such darkness and turn it into something that is going to be such a light," said McDaniel. 

Social workers will be able to do temporary placement of children in their care until those children are assigned a foster home. The home will be set up to make the children feel safe and give their case workers an atmosphere they can utilize their best resources for the children and their families. 

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