The National Runaway Switchboard marked its 42-year anniversary Jan. 15 with a big change: a new name.
Starting this month, the Chicago-based organization, which works to prevent youth homelessness, will operate as the National Runaway Safeline (NRS).
"The [original] name didn't resonate well with youth," NRS Executive Director Maureen Blaha said. "When asked what a switchboard is, teens of today said, 'Oh, maybe it's something to do with a computer? Or is it something that a DJ uses?' We realized that [switchboard] really was an outdated name."
Blaha said the new moniker better represents the agency's expanded services. In addition to a 24-hour hotline, at-risk youth can access live chats, online bulletin boards and email assistance.
"Our challenge is to make sure that youth who need our help can find us," Blaha said. "We believe the new name will really help to build the breadth and depth of the services that we'll be able to provide."
The National Runaway Safeline marked its milestone with 24 hours of programming, including a lunchtime celebration and candlelight vigil.
Additionally, the Lakeview restaurant Bakin' & Eggs (3120 N. Lincoln Ave.) will sell cupcakes commemorating NRS through the end of January. Proceeds will support the organization's youth outreach.
For volunteer and donation inquiries, visit www.1800runaway.org .