Crisis Care Line Board President Kathy Taylor speaks to the group and supporters Monday at a banquet celebrating the organization's 35th anniversary. (DHI Media/Ed Gebert)
Crisis Care Line Board President Kathy Taylor speaks to the group and supporters Monday at a banquet celebrating the organization's 35th anniversary. (DHI Media/Ed Gebert)
Times Bulletin Editor

VAN WERT -- Thirty-five years ago, a small group of five people came together to see what help with the needs of the victims of domestic violence. From these roots, Crisis Car Line/House of Transition was born. The organization has served needs of local residents through those 35 years, and group members and backers gathered on Monday at St. Mark's Lutheran Church to celebrate and to look ahead.

One of those five, Mary Callow, remembered what it was like establishing services for domestic violence victims.

"My main concern was the kids because the kids never forget this," said Callow. "I'll never forget the looks of the people in the Police Department when I walked in and said, 'I'll take your victims.' They breathed a sigh of relief, and I bet they slept better that night than they had in a long time!"

The organization needed to scale back on services in 2012 due to a loss in funding, and even the Crisis Care Line at (419) 238-HELP was taken off 24-hour status.

"We lost some funding two years ago," stated current Board President Kathy Taylor. "As a result of that, we had to make some serious decisions about what we could do and who we could serve." Eventually the organization was unsure of how to proceed.

"But the bottom line is: people kept calling. And the staff that we had kept serving. So after some serious consideration of our purposes, our board operated on a six-month and a 12-month basis as we moved forward," Young pointed out.

That tenacity has paid off, as additional funding has been picked up and the phone line will soon be back to 24/7.

"I'm hoping by the end of September," said Volunteer Coordinator Trina Bartz. :We have everything in the works. We're going to make it work with the staff that we have... It's time to get the program up and running again so that we have someone all the time on the other end of that phone. When a woman is in crisis, what she does not want to hear is a recorded message to call another phone number... A lot of our board members are going to jump on the bandwagon and we're going to make it happen."

Crisis Care Line not only has the phone line. The organization also provides transitional housing, an emergency shelter, advocacy services, transportation, food, clothing, basic needs, referrals, and lessons in safe and independent living. Funding is currently coming from the Office for Criminal Justice and from the United Way of Van Wert County. According to Taylor, there are many small contributors also, including many churches in the Van Wert Community. And the Ohio Attorney General's Office is meeting with the organization this week. If this meeting goes well, more funding could be coming.

"Hopefully we will continue to provide services, hopefully, for another 35 years," Taylor told the supporters at Monday's banquet.

"We're not leaving. We're not giving up," Bartz declared. "These ladies need something. And we provide some of that something. They need a safe place, they need food and clothing, and transitional education."

"I really appreciate what's happened here. I never dreamed that a dream would go this far." remarked Callow. "Last night, I turned off the lights in my house, leaned back in my chair and thought, 'Where you began and where you are right now is absolutely fantastic.'