ETO seeks help from community to continue work with teens

By: Sara Kandel | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published December 27, 2012

EASTPOINTE — A local outreach group is seeking help from the community to continue their work with teens.

From weekly bullying support groups to a family-style dinner every Thursday night, Eastside Teen Outreach offers a little bit of everything for teens in need.

“We want to help them however we can,” said Deena Trocino, who runs the outreach with her husband, Doug.

“A lot of kids don’t get a family-style dinner, so we make sure we have one every Thursday, then they have some social time after the dinner, they can shoot pool or play games. After that we do the outreach program,” Trocino said.

They need help to continue doing what they are doing, though.

Back when the Trocinos started ETO, it was their two kids, Deena’s brother’s two kids and one other child — five kids and two adults — and the meetings were held at the Trocino home in Eastpointe. But last year the group grew to more than 100 teens. To support a group that size, they decided to make the move into a building.

It was something they had long dreamed of doing.

“I see Eastside Teen Outreach as a place that has something for every kid — a place where, if you need counseling, you can get counseling; a place where, if you need help writing a résumé to get job, you can do that and even learn how to present yourself to get a job; a place where kids could come to get homework help; a place just to hang out, where if they needed a safe place to just hang out, they could come play video games, shoot basketball, play racquetball or shoot pool; a place that’s opened for them every day,” Deena said.

But supplying a place for teens to go isn’t cheap.

The Trocinos foot the majority of the cost of rent and expenses out of their own pockets. Housed in the old Love Life Family Christian Center on 10 Mile Road in Eastpointe, the cost of staying open just two days a week is about $3,000 a month.

“That’s for rent, insurance, food, utilities, transportation and maintenance and upkeep — things like snow removal and grass cutting,” Doug explained.

They receive some help. A handful of local churches, organizations, businesses and community members have stepped up with monthly donations.

ETO brings in about $200-$250 a month in private donations. Paradox Church donates $500 a month, and the Eastpointe Rotary Club, the Eastpointe Lions Club and Christ Community Church all donate $100 a month. J Cola Salon donates $50 a month, Vandebossche Insurance donates $25 a month and East Detroit school board member Jon Gruenberg donates $25 a month.

But even with all the generous support, the donations don’t add up to the cost to run the building, and the Trocinos end up paying anywhere from $1,000-$2,000 out of pocket each month.

“Right now, we are financially supporting this building, and we can’t afford to keep doing it for long,” Deena said.

“This is a full-time job for both of us, but we don’t get paid. It’s not even just a full-time job; it’s a full-time life for us. We don’t take any money away from this mission, and we are actually supporting this mission with our personal income.”

Doug works in technology and web design full-time. They hope that ETO can one day soon stand on its own or even be able to employ them or other workers, but for now, Doug’s salary is being stretched to support both their family and the organization.

They don’t want to give up on their dream, but Doug estimates that dream — being open seven days a week and offering more services — will cost them about $5,000 a month, and it’s just not something they can do right now. Well, at least not without the help of the community.

“We averaged the cost to keep the building open seven days a week and found that it cost about $25 an hour, so we are asking people to sponsor one-hour a month,” Doug said. “That means it’s one hour every month that the kids have a safe place to go. It’s an hour that you are providing a lot of kids a safe, fun, upright, moral place to go.”

The group can also be sponsored through the Kroger Community Rewards program — Kroger’s rewards members can link their card to ETO online at www.kroger, and a portion of the proceeds from each of their shopping bills will go to benefiting ETO.

“We would have a music program. We would have an art program. We even talked about having a teen crisis pregnancy center where kids could come get the help they needed,” Deena said about the building’s potential, if only the finances allowed.

But even more than that, being open seven days would just give kids a place to go, Doug explained.

“We are here to be a safe place for the kids,” he said. “A lot of kids don’t have a safe place. Some kids aren’t even safe in their own homes. So we really are just here to be a safe place for the kids, which we can be for them, two days a week now, but we are hoping to go to seven days.”

For more information on ETO or to donate, call (586) 260-8510 or visit