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Ormond Beach Observer Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019 7 months ago

First Step chooses Ormond-by-the-Sea resident for executive director position

Victoria Fahlberg said she is looking forward to going out in the community and garnering support for the shelter.
by: Jarleene Almenas Associate Editor

Victoria Fahlberg sees herself as a goodwill ambassador for First Step shelter.

After many months of the shelter facing challenges, this is important, she said.

Fahlberg was recently named the shelter's new executive director, effective following the board's approval on Monday, Oct. 7. She comes to the job with previous grant writing, fundraising and leadership experience, as Fahlberg served as the executive director of ONE Lowell Corp. in Massachusetts, and held various consultant and grant writing positions over the years. 

The Ormond-by-the-Sea resident has a doctorate in philosophy and psychology from the Union Institute and University in Ohio, as well as a master of public health in population and international health from the Harvard School of Public Health in Massachusetts, according to her resume. 

Going into her new role, Fahlberg said one of her main focuses will be fundraising for the shelter. 

“Right now, we have a need for about another half-million dollars to make sure that it runs really well, and then we need more because we want to get it up to the full capacity," Fahlberg said.

While she didn't get to experience the difficulties of construction, she said that going forward, First Step will face different challenges. For her, it's important that as a unit, everyone involved with the shelter is able to move on from the past.

“This is a really important and significant entity and everyone in the county needs to embrace it," Fahlberg said.

With a grand opening scheduled for Dec. 11, what the shelter needs to do now is figure out how to implement the vision of aiding individuals out of homelessness by providing temporary housing and access to services. That's where Fahlberg feels she can help.

Between now and when First Step opens, Fahlberg said she's aiming to get acquainted with all the services offered by the community. She's also hoping to meet as many people as she can — from Catholic Charities partners to the people the shelter will serve.

Fahlberg also said that the commitment of the board has been noteworthy, despite all the controversies and challenges.

"How they have stuck it out all this time, how they have made sure that this vision has become a reality, is amazing to me," she said.

She has been on a number of nonprofit boards, and even had her own board at one point. Fahlberg said she's never seen the same level of dedication from a board of directors.

Once the shelter opens, it will need the community's support, she added. The shelter will need financial support, goodwill and volunteers.

"[First Step] belongs to everyone," Fahlberg said. "I would like people to feel proud of the homeless shelter that we're going to be running."

The shelter's grand opening is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 11. 

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