by Alexandria Hicks
is a very special year for Next Step Ministries! This year marks 25 years of providing crisis intervention services to domestic violence survivors of the Kernersville community. As we celebrate this significant milestone, it is important to reflect on our humble beginnings and the growth that Next Step Ministries has experienced over the years.
After the death of a local schoolteacher, it was determined by community leaders that Kernersville was in dire need of accessible resources for its residents who were experiencing domestic violence. Through strong collaborative efforts, Next Step Ministries began providing emergency housing and crisis intervention services in 1998. Our first Safe House operated out of a mobile home located right here in Kernersville, and it did not take long to realize that the need was much larger than what a few small bedrooms could meet. We have since moved into a beautiful home that was graciously provided by our avid community supporters. It is a home built by love that focuses on the specific needs of our guests, safety of our staff and residents, and the comfort of the families we serve.
The growth in our mission was paralleled by a rise in operating costs, and in 2005 the Next Step Ministries Thrift Store opened its doors for the first time. We now had a public space where community members could come to find unique items at a sensible price all while supporting our vision. During donation hours, we are generously provided the items we sell as well as new toiletries, cleaning supplies, and clothing for the guests in our home. At this time, our thrift store covers approximately 45% of all operating costs, and we could not be more grateful for the overwhelming support of the Kernersville community. The Next Step Ministries Safe House has continued operating since 1998 and has now served hundreds of individuals from various cities, counties, and even states.
While our faith-based principles and emergency housing remain a significant agency focus, our programs have greatly expanded throughout the years. We now also provide sexual assault services which include hospital accompaniment, support groups, and prevention-based workshops. These services are provided by our Victim Advocate position, which was created in 2020 and works in partnership with the Kernersville Police Department. Victim Advocate responds to domestic violence and sexual assault calls in the Kernersville community through immediate crisis intervention or follow ups. Since its inception, the Victim Advocate position has assisted 357 individual clients. This includes 51 Kernersville residents and children who have been served this year alone.
In honor of our 25 years in service, we would like to invite the entire Kernersville community to join us this October to recognize Domestic Violence Awareness Month. So far this year, the state of North Carolina has seen unprecedented acts of domestic violence – leading to at least 44 deaths. Approximately 30% of those were in Forsyth County and Guilford County alone. Spreading information about the services we provide and the ways in which we can help is more vital now than ever! Throughout the month, we will have several educational opportunities for those who may need help as well as events focused on paying tribute to those who have lost their lives.
Please join us in shining a light on domestic violence so that we can reach those who need a spark of hope and a safe place of refuge. After 25 years, we still need the continued support of our community to help stop the spread of domestic violence!
Calendar of Events:
October 11 – A Safe Space Workshop 6pm-7:30pm
October 16 – Pinwheel Garden Display at Town Hall
October 20 – Candlelight Vigil at Town Hall 6pm
October 27 – Logan Robbins’ Drive Out Domestic Violence Golf Tournament 1pm
To participate in our workshops or to find ways in which you can get involved in our mission, please visit our website at www.nextstepdv.org.