BY SHERI TRUSTY
When Kami Sayre was a little girl, her father taught a multi-handicap class in the Oak Harbor building that now houses Ottawa County Family & Children First Council (FCFC). Sayre recalls playing in the school and seeing her father’s boss sit at his desk in the front office.
Now, Sayre sits in that same office as the new Executive Director of FCFC.
“When I was just a little nugget, my dad was a multi-handicap teacher here. I have pictures of me running down the hallway,” Sayre said. “For me, it’s just amazing to be here.”
FCFC is a partnership between local government, community members and families that focuses on impacting the lives of children and families. It works to connect families to services more efficiently.
“We look for trends relating to families involved in different services and collaborate with schools, government agencies, and others to move upstream and focus on prevention,” Sayre said. “The purpose of FCFC is to streamline and coordinate existing government services and create new ones to fill the gap.”
Every county in the state is required under Ohio Revised Code to establish an FCFC, and each FCFC has mandated members that include past FCFC clients, the director of the county mental health board, the health commissioner, and other agency heads.
“We also have associate members on council. These are people who are not mandated but are here because they have something to offer and should have a voice at the table,” Sayre said.
When Sayre was hired to lead FCFC in October, she stepped down from her former position as director of the Salvation Army Port Clinton Service Center. The decision to leave the Salvation Army was difficult.
“I love the Salvation Army. It’s hard to drive by. There are all those cars, all those people, all that joy in there right now,” she said.
The change allowed her to utilize her unique skills and focus her passion for helping families toward a broader impact in the county. At the Salvation Army, Sayre met needs hand-to-hand. She gave food to mothers, toys to children, and warm hats to homeless men. She helped connect local residents in need to organizations that could help them pay their rent or fund gas money to get to work.
Now, at FCFC, her work helps her look across county service agencies with a wide-angle lens so she can find better ways to utilize those agencies to meet needs in the community. In a sense, Sayre is the mama spider spinning the web of county social service.
“It’s macro-level community planning and problem solving,” she said. “I work with the system so that every family can be served better.”