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Saturday, May 20th, 2017

Filling a need

Local agency unveils new sign, plans to offer more services

By Sydney Albert

Marketing director Deb Simon-Heinfeld directs the unveiling of Our Home Family R. . .

CELINA - Our Home Family Resource Center officials on Wednesday unveiled new signs and a new website as part of a yearlong effort to rebrand and expand services.
A small crowd gathered Wednesday outside the non-profit's office: staff members, supportive community members and a representative of Gov. John Kasich.
Our Home director Kathy Mescher addressed the group before the unveiling of the new sign on the building, one of many improvements officials have made to spread awareness of their mission and programs.
"We know there's need out there, and people don't know we're here. We want them to know we're here, and we want them to know how committed we are to helping them," marketing director Deb Simon-Heinfeld said.
When she first started at Our Home in January, people would say they'd heard of Our Home but weren't sure which services were offered, Simon-Heinfeld said. Part of the problem was branding and another part was the small staff size. Almost everybody working at Our Home directly served people and didn't have the time to promote the programs, even after board members had decided to add services, she said.
For instance, Our Home has recently partnered with the Celina Ministerial Association to help people in need guard against abuse. Those in need often go to churches, but sometimes people would take advantage of church officials' generosity, Simon-Heinfeld said.
"Without the churches coordinating, people could go to one church and say, 'My electric is being shut off, I need $100.' Then go to the next church and do it again," she explained.
Now, the churches work together and send people to Our Home to start an intake process, in which needs are assessed and people are pointed to the appropriate programs.
Our Home has also recently started working with the Crime Victim Services of Lima to start a sexual-assault hotline for those in the area. If people have been a victim or have seen something to report, Our Home personnel are trained to point people to the next step. Local law enforcement and Mercer Health officials are partnering with the agency to make the hotline work, Simon-Heinfeld said. People can go to Mercer County Community Hospital in Coldwater to have rape kits completed and receive counseling. Law enforcement officials will also have cards with information for victims or those at risk, Simon-Heinfeld said.
Other updates include an expanded RAFT program, which primarily focuses on child exchanges between separated parents and visitations in a controlled environment. Simon-Heinfeld said organizers are considering offering parenting classes or having someone on-duty to help parents learn skills such as how to play or talk with their children.
"Foundations has a course on parenting that we often refer people to, but it's only offered twice a year. So there's kind of a big gap there, and we think that's part of the whole process of moving people from crisis to hope. You know, visiting with your child is one thing, but understanding how to play with them and how to discipline them in the right way is very important too," Simon-Heinfeld said.
"There are folks who have just fallen through the cracks and that's why we're here," she said.
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