The only domestic violence shelter that serves Wyandot and Seneca Counties could be forced to close

First Step leaders need to raise $20,000 by the end of the year to keep the non-profit open.
The Fostoria shelter could be forced to close at the end of the year
Published: Sep. 22, 2022 at 6:51 PM EDT
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FOSTORIA, Ohio (WTVG) - First Step Center for Domestic Violence Services has been in Fostoria for decades. However, the only domestic violence emergency shelter serving Seneca and Wyandot Counties could be closed in a matter of months.

First Step provides emergency shelter for men, women, and children. On any given day, there are up to 15 adults and children staying at the shelter. But after 35 years, First Step could be forced to close its doors by the end of this year.

Amy Kinney, First Step Board President, said the possibility is absolutely heartbreaking to consider.

“It breaks my heart to think about what will happen to the victims and their kids if we are not able to take them in. The board is intent on doing everything possible to prevent the closure,” Kinney said.

The problem is funding. Amy said the non-profit will not be getting nearly $20,000 in United Way funding and the loss goes deeper than that.

“We have been informed that we will not be supported with Fostoria United Way money this year. That’s a pot of money we use for matching dollars for state grants. So not only are we losing that pot, we could lose up to $100,000 in state grants,” Kinney said.

First Step is about much more than an emergency shelter. It also provides life-changing services for victims and their children.

“We also provide court advocacy, education, job application, and life skills training. We give them a way out,” Kinney said.

Kinney said while there are other shelters in northwest Ohio, some only take people from a specific county, and others have a long waiting list. Even if victims can get into another shelter, it’s not always ideal. “Maybe they have a job or kids in school and don’t want to pick up and move.”

Kimmey can’t imagine a world without First Step. She’s confident others will help make sure that doesn’t happen. “I believe in First Step, and the community, and I believe we will continue to be here with the community’s help,” she said.

First Step has about three months to raise the money. If you’d like to donate, click here. You can also send a check to: First Step PO Box 1103 Fostoria, Ohio 44830.

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