Courts & Crime

Copper thieves hit nonprofit in Fort Worth, Texas

FORT WORTH — Copper thieves forced the two-day shutdown of a nonprofit organization aimed at helping children in need.

The Fortress Youth Development Center, which runs a preschool and after-school program for children living in near southeast Fort Worth, had to shut down its programs Monday and today after thieves, over the weekend, damaged their electric meter to steal copper, leaving their facility on Stella Street without electricity.

Stacy Kocur said the organization paid $2,800 Monday for a new electric meter and to replace the stolen copper and are planning to reopen Wednesday after electricity is restored.

She said the agency will also have to replace much of the food that had been kept in the facility’s refrigerators and freezers that was used to provide breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner for program participants.

"Some of it we were able to salvage. We brought it home and put in our own freezers but most of it had thawed too much," she said. "It's going to be a pretty big expense when it's all said and done."

Incorporated in 2005, the Fortress Youth Development Center provides social and academic resources to help children overcome the trap of generational poverty, according to its website.

Kocur said currently, 24 children are enrolled in the center's preschool program and 65 children in its after-school program.

"Ninety percent of our kids live below the national poverty level," Kocur said. "... For some of our kids, Fortress is the only really stable thing they have. They come from terrible home situations. They look forward to coming to Fortress. Sometimes it's the only place they get help with homework. Outside of school, it's the only place they get a meal. Some of these kids are really hurting without it."

Kocur said that as of Tuesday morning, the agency had received $350 in donations.

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