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ALEXANDRIA, Va. — National Safe Place Network President and CEO Laurie Jackson discusses how convenience stores and other community businesses are helping youth in distress, and how more businesses can join them, in the latest weekly Convenience Matters podcast, produced by NACS, the Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing.
The episode, "Convenience Stores as Safe Places," can be downloaded on iTunes by searching for "Convenience Matters" or by visiting www.nacsonline.com/podcasts.
"Convenience stores — such as QuikTrip that has been active with Safe Place since 1991 — are literally changing lives," said podcast co-host Jeff Lenard, NACS' vice president of strategic industry initiatives. "These stores provide a safe place where runaways and at-risk youth can come in off the street, receive food and drink, and wait for a volunteer from a Safe Place agency partner to connect them with professional help or a place to stay until their situation is resolved."
C-stores are a great fit for programs such as Safe Place because they are intensely local businesses, according to Jackson. Ninety percent of Americans say a c-store is located within 10 minutes of their home, and cumulatively, the U.S. c-store industry serves 160 million customers per day. This means that on average, more than half of the population of the United States is at a c-store every day.
Both NACS and Tulsa, Okla.-based QuikTrip Corp., operator of more than 700 c-stores, serve on the National Safe Place Network board of directors.
"Unfortunately, young people face troubling issues in today's world and it's up to all of us to offer solutions, places where youth can go to connect to immediate help," Jackson said. "Convenience stores are an essential thread in the national safety net for youth as each store has the opportunity to serve as a community leader providing compassion, support and attention to young people in need."
The NACS Convenience Matters podcasts debuted in February. New episodes focusing on topics related to convenience retailing are released weekly.