First Step was awarded a $25,000 grant from the National Fatherhood Initiative. The agency was awarded a capacity-building grant for work with local fathers. First Step was one of 25 recipients selected from 616 applications from organizations throughout the country. First Step was honored that the agency’s work with area fathers had been recognized by a national organization and was grateful for the assistance in strengthening their services with the guidance of the National Fatherhood Initiative.


A second Ohio Arts grant was received for the meditation garden. Additional funds totaling $37,000 were also received from Seneca County and Sandusky County Commissioners to match the Ohio Arts Council grant. These funds went toward site preparation, construction, landscaping of the garden, installation of security lights and reconstruction of the house manager’s entrance. The dedication of the Jeanne Cassell Meditation Garden was held in late August. The Ohio Attorney General’s Victims of Crime Office presided over the event. Over 120 people attended the event. The meditation garden continues to be a quiet space for residential clients to find peace and healing.


The Ohio Arts Council awarded First Step a planning grant for Art in Public Places. The grant provided initial funds for the agency’s vision of a meditation sculpture garden. Sculptor Charlotte Lees of Solon, Ohio was commissioned to create the sculpture. A planning committee of volunteers, area artists and board members began work to bring the dream to fruition.


Executive Director Terri Mercer was awarded the Seneca County Woman of the Year award by the Veterans of Foreign Wars. First Step received the Ohio Governor’s Award for Excellence.


First Step received the Ohio Attorney General’s Special Achievement Award in recognition of being the first shelter in the state to be built from the ground up.


First Step was awarded its first grant through the Ohio Attorney General’s Victims of Crime funds. The Passages program was developed for the women in shelter with the funds. Operation Starshine, a program for children, was also created.

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