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First Step holds annual meeting

| February 11, 2014

COSHOCTON – People can change and they can heal and First Step is committed to making that happen.

“We’ve lost funding, but we are still serving people and that’s because of our staff,” said Vicki Laudick, executive director of First Step Family Violence and Intervention Services. “We have people who see this as their focus and vision and want to make changes in the lives of people in the community.”

First Step’s staff, volunteers and board members were all honored for their hard work and dedication Feb. 10, at the agency’s annual dinner and meeting.

“We wouldn’t be able to do a lot of the stuff we do without our volunteers,” said Megan Philabaum, First Step’s office/fiscal manager. “We really appreciate all of their help.”

The agency’s mission statement is, “to promote safety to victims of violence through education, counseling, advocacy and shelter when needed to any person suffering the effects of family violence and/or sexual assault.” It also aims to promote non-violent behavior by educating the perpetrators of violence.”

Laudick explained in her annual report that in 2013 the agency provided 17,277 hours of direct services hours and 229 prevention hours. Sixty-two women and children were served by the shelter, 238 victims and children were seen for individual and group support, including protection orders, 32 people took part in the men’s group and women who resort to violence programs, and the school youth advocate program served 251 students.

Jim McVey and John Turley are co-facilitators of the men’s group and gave a presentation on the program during the meeting.

“What we do when a child is around teaches them how to be a man,” McVey said. “I tell participants that we get to choose what kind of men we are going to have around in the future.”

Turley said they also work on changing the attitudes of people.

“We want to stop the violence and work toward the circle of family,” he said. “It’s a safe home with a lot of caring and love, but they have to build this within themselves first.”

Turley also stressed the importance of not brushing domestic violence under the rug.

“We need to not be afraid to report it and let people know that it’s not right,” he said. “It takes a community to deal with domestic violence. We need everybody’s help.”

Laudick also stressed this message after showing attendees the film, “First Impressions……Exposure to Violence and A Child’s Developing Brain.”

“I love this video,” she said. “It shows what a child can go through, but in the end it shows there is hope because we can choose to heal at some point in our lives. As a community we need to reach out and support each other to help the healing.”

For information about First Step, visit www.firststepcoshocton.org, friend them on Facebook or call 622-8504.

“Go tell three, four or even five people what you learned here tonight so we can help stop the violence,” Laudick said. “It’d be nice if we could have a final annual meeting because First Step wasn’t needed here in Coshocton anymore.”

She, however, promises to always do her best to provide series to the community as long as they are needed.

“Money will always be a problem, but we will be here,” she said. “We are not going to let that stop us.”

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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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