WE WOULD LIKE TO SAY A HUGE
THANK YOU TO THE FOUNDING MOTHERS OF FIRST STEP HOME.
In 1993, with addiction on the rise and few places for the women of Cincinnati to seek treatment, Annie Bennett, first Executive Director, and a group of women, that we now know as the Founding Mothers of First Step Home, set out to change the way our society treated women facing substance use disorder and mental health issues.
The idea was modeled after Sojourner Home in Columbus and Chaney Allen Center in Cincinnati. The Founding Mothers, most of whom were in recovery, realized that treatment for chemical dependency was often more complicated for women.
Little help was available to low-income families, partially because of the social stigma. It's a challenge for women, especially mothers, to make the choice to go to treatment when they have no family support and no one to look after their children while they get well.
“I was in addiction counseling myself and I wasn’t sure which direction I wanted to go in... But I started working this 24-hour hotline for chemical dependency... And I kept seeing these women who were working to get sober, but had to go back to abusive relationships... I knew a group of women in Columbus who put together a women’s shelter... and I thought ‘why not here?'" Mary Ann Heekin, Founding Mother and first Chair, Board of Trustees of First Step Home.
The women started First Step Home in the rectory of St. Michael's Church in lower Price Hill on a shoestring budget. It was the only treatment facility at that time in Cincinnati that would allow women to bring their children (up to the age of twelve) to the treatment facility with them to live. This eliminated the hurdle that women in addiction usually faced when deciding between treatment and their children going into foster care. The Founding Mothers of First Step Home recognized the importance of the mother's role, being able to break the cycle of addiction, and returning these women to society as productive mothers and citizens. They provided individual and family counseling, mental health services, transitional housing, parenting classes, vocational counseling, and continued outpatient treatment, to name a few.
"I used to contribute to First Step Home by donating all my kitchen utensils, bed linens, and other things around the home unbeknownst to me," said one husband of a Founding Mother. "My wife would take them to First Step Home in the middle of the night when the women there were in need of a random pot, pan, or kitchen appliance. I would say, "Honey, where's the blender? And she would say, 'Oh! The women needed it! We'll just have to get another one.' And that was okay."
We now have 67 housing beds and 16 residential treatment beds. We currently have 12 buildings. We have a total of 44 staff members and we have provided services to thousands of women and their children.
Thank you for having hope and believing in the dream of First Step Home.
You have touched the lives of so many.