First Step 20th anniversary celebration held

| October 15, 2015

COSHOCTON – Twenty years ago there were no services in Coshocton County for victims of domestic violence, but Vickie Laudick and her staff at First Step have worked hard to change that.

First Step Family Violence Intervention Services celebrated its 20th anniversary and recognized October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month with a dinner on Oct. 14 at Lake Park Pavilion. The evening included a meal catered by Roberta’s Catering, cake and cupcakes by Katie Bakes and presentations by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Jayne Jacops, a survivor of domestic violence. The Coshocton County Commissioners and Mayor Steve Mercer also presented First Step with a joint proclamation and there was a display of t-shirts designed by victims of domestic violence. An additional white t-shirt at each table represented someone in the community who had died because of domestic violence.

“My hope is that we never have to do another white t-shirt,” said Laudick, who is the executive director of First Step. “It’s really important tonight that we stop and think that there could be a person sitting there that can’t because they died at the hands of someone who supposedly loved them. We need to talk to our children and grandchildren about their own empowerment so the violence, whether it be physical, verbal or emotional stops.”

Laudick encouraged those in attendance to listen to anyone who comes to them seeking help.

“You need to say I believe you, I hear you and I’m not going to judge you,” she said. “Offer them resources (for help) and don’t give up on them.”

During his presentation, DeWine, whose office helps fund programs like First Step, thanked Laudick, her staff and the organization’s volunteers for all they do to help victims of domestic violence.

“My number one reason for being here was to say thank you,” he said. “We have come a long way with victims programs. It used to be hit and miss and a lot of victims were never really helped.”

Since taking office, DeWine has done a survey in all of Ohio’s 88 counties to find out what resources were available to victims, worked on increasing training for police officers on how to handle domestic violence situations, increased the speed of testing done at Ohio’s crime lab and is working on getting testing done on close to 11,000 rape kits that were never examined.

“We are getting matches and hits (from the national DNA database) on 37-38 percent of the ones we have tested,” DeWine said. “In Cuyahoga County alone we have gotten over 400 indictments as a result of these. We owe this to the victims that consented to have a rape kit done and then nothing happened with them. In some cases we’ve been able to tell people that their attacker is dead, already locked up, or we now know who they are and are looking for them.”

He wrapped up his speech by again thanking those involved with First Step for what they do.

“Thank you for the great work you all do and for caring about your fellow human being,” he said. “Some of you have been doing that for a long time and I thank you for your commitment to the victim.”

If you need help, call First Step’s helpline any time of day at 740-622-9533.

First Step is a United Way Agency.

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About the Author ()

I started my journalism career in 2002 with a daily newspaper chain. After various stops with them, I am happy to be back home! I graduated from Coshocton High School in 1998 and received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication in 2002 from Walsh University. I also earned several awards while working for daily papers, including being honored by Coshocton County’s veterans for the stories I wrote about them. I am honored and ready to once again shine a positive light on Coshocton County. I also am the proud mother of a little girl named Sophia!

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