Solace Center to reopen in new home

WARREN – After being shut down for more than two years, the community’s Solace Center has found a new home in the front area of Valley Counseling offices on Mahoning Avenue N.W.

With startup money supplied from Trumbull County Family Court, the center is resuming operations this month with up to 50 child exchanges and up to 80 supervised visitations expected each month.

Bonnie Wilson, director at Solace Center and Someplace Safe, estimated that as many as 3,000 families were served by the center when it operated from 1998 to 2010 at locations on Mercer Avenue, Elm Road and High Street N.E.

The private, nonprofit organization created through the courts, law enforcement and social services was one of the first five centers of its kind in Ohio and was given several pilot grants through the Ohio Department of Human Services and federal sources. Originally, the center offered mediation, parenting enrichment and family support programs.

”But we actually grew too fast,” said Mary Olesh, Solace program manager, explaining that federal grants that supported utilities and a larger staff eventually dried up.

In the meantime, fast-food restaurants and police stations were serving the purpose for one parent dropping off a child for an exchange or a visit during the shutdown.

Now, monitoring will take place after court-ordered referrals and much of it will be done with trained volunteers to oversee on-site visits.

The center is seeking a $20 per hour cost for supervised visitations and $10 for complete exchanges of kids.

”It’s all about preserving the safety of the kids,” Olesh said.