TreeHouse, an organization specializing in providing support resources to teens, has expanded in recent months with a new Shakopee location.

While the organization has served teens for nearly 45 years, TreeHouse resources have been available in Scott and Carver counties for about six.

Deb Bodensteiner, Scott and Carver County TreeHouse area director, has worked over the last six years to establish TreeHouse sites in the southwest metro. She has developed sites for kids in seventh to 12th grade in New Prague, Savage-Prior Lake area, Jordan, Chaska and now Shakopee.

The Shakopee location has been years in the making. Bodensteiner said the organization was able to connect with Resonate Community Church in town for a location last year. The site opened in September of last year and has been providing services ever since.

Resources through TreeHouse are free and look to provide a safe, welcoming environment for teenagers.

This includes weekly support groups, which Bodensteiner said provide peer-to-peer support among the teens.

“We have adult leaders facilitating, but actually the encouragement and the support and the love is peer to peer,” she said. “There’s always somebody in the group that’s probably going through the same thing that you are, and it’s basically a place for them to just share their emotions and to share what’s going on in their real life — things that they don’t normally share with parents.”

Free dinner is also provided ahead of these support group meetings. These meals, provided at all the local sites, are made and given by people and organizations throughout the areas TreeHouse serves.

“People just see the need. They know what we’re doing and see the life changes that are happening, and they help. It’s amazing,” Bodensteiner said.

With the Shakopee location still being relatively new, Bodensteiner said there has been a bit of a struggle collecting meals for this location. The site is also looking to add a van driver as TreeHouse provides free transportation options for teens.

The Shakopee location serves about 10-12 students each week, numbers Bodensteiner said are excellent given the site’s few months in town.

The Shakopee TreeHouse location also provides one-on-one mentoring and group activities. Teens have recently hung out through a “girls’ day out” event and snow tubing at Elm Creek Winter Recreation Area.

“Nobody knows what we do and who we serve,” Bodensteiner said about TreeHouse’s work in town. “We’re trying to get that word out because the teens need support, and they need love and encouragement and a safe place to just be themselves.”