First Step to celebrate 20th anniversary with dinner

| October 2, 2015

COSHOCTON – First Step Family Violence Intervention Services, Inc. has been a leading advocate against domestic violence in the Coshocton community for the past 20 years. In that time, this agency has provided a variety of services for more than 3,000 women and children who were victims of domestic violence.

The organization was founded by two women, both survivors of domestic violence, and provides support services, support groups, helpline, and even a pet shelter for those who have experienced domestic violence and / or sexual assault. First Step also advocates through the county court system and provides prevention services in all three county schools, including an after-school program. In 2014, prevention services in the school reached 87 percent of students in kindergarten through senior year.

“When children are raised in violence, it’s their norm,” said Vicki Laudick, co-founder of First Step. “It’s all they know. We try to help them make other choices and not resort to violence.”

The program also educates children about the dangers of bullying and sexting.

“Children need to be educated and know what the consequences will be if they resort to that behavior,” said Laudick.

The organization also has a six-month education program for both men and women who resort to violence and who have been charged with assault in the past.

“We also have to educate the ones responsible for the violence,” said Laudick. “They have to be held accountable for their actions, but they have to be educated on how not to act.”

The agency will be celebrating its 20th anniversary and also recognizing October as domestic violence awareness month with a dinner on Wednesday, Oct. 14 from 5:30 – 8 p.m. at Lake Park Pavilion. The cost is $25 per person and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine will be speaking, along with two survivors of domestic violence. The Ohio Attorney General’s office has been pro-active in recognizing the impact of domestic violence and First Step receives a matching grant from their office to help provide services.

“The whole idea is to make people aware of domestic violence in the community,” said Laudick. “As parents and grandparents, we have a responsibility to teach our children how to empower themselves and how to keep themselves safe.”

The dinner will be catered by Roberta’s. At each table, there will be an empty place setting to remember those who have died as a result of domestic violence in Coshocton County. The clothesline display will also be at the event.

“People who have been victims of domestic violence, it’s their story on a t-shirt,” said Laudick. “Each t-shirt represents a different variation of domestic violence. The concept started when women used to hang their clothes out on the line and talk to each other about their domestic violence experiences.”

If you need help, a helpline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Their number is 740-622-9533. To RSVP for the 20th anniversary celebration, call 740-622-8504 by Wednesday, Oct. 7.

“People who come get a lot out of it,” said Laudick. “People who don’t experience domestic violence in their lives don’t understand what it’s like, but you never know when it’s going to touch your life.”

First Step is a United Way Agency.

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Category: Clubs & Organizations

About the Author ()

I have been employed at the Coshocton County Beacon since September 2009 as a news reporter and assistant graphic artist. I am a 2004 graduate of Newcomerstown High School and a 2008 graduate of Capital University with a bachelor’s degree in Professional Writing. I am married to John Scott and live in Newcomerstown. We have two beautiful daughters, Amelia Grace Scott and Leanna Rose Scott.

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