Emergency Shelter for Somerset County Residents

Board of Directors

The Next Step Center is overseen by local individuals as our Board of Directors

Steven Spochart


Karen Ferry 

Vice Chair

Arthur Gotjen


Marlene Gotjen


Yvonne Ankeny


Nohemi Beitzel

Jon Kimmel


Andrea Palguta


Arnie McFarland


Lisa Phillips 


M. Renee Gindlesperger


Brenda Shaffer

Paul Bomboy

Nancy Colliver

Cory Merrbach






Lisa Wengerd

Executive Director

Justin Kerrigan
Transitions Program Manager

Justin Kerrigan
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Who We Are

Through the generosity of county residents, Next Step Center is a fully operational emergency shelter. We are housed in a remodeled, refurbished and re-equipped five-bedroom residence that is suitable for children and special needs guests. During our first year of operation in 2003, we sheltered 43 guests, nine of whom were children. During the year 2014, we sheltered 82 residents of Somerset County, including 22 children. Although some weeks our house is busier than others, on average we shelter four or five individuals per night. The Next Step Center, Inc. is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit charity organization registered with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Our Board of Directors are local residents. Our Executive Director is supported by a team of local volunteers.


Our Program

Severe weather and a struggling economy with social and financial barriers can render families and individuals who live in Somerset County temporarily homeless every year. Next Step offers guests an opportunity to reestablish themselves while living in a safe, supportive environment. Working with many agencies within the county, Next Step Center guides guests through the relocation process so that they gain independent living within a 30-day period. In rare instances, this period can be extended if the individual or family is working towards gaining permanent housing. This extension is granted only when availability is permissible. To aid in self-sufficiency, we keep in contact with our guests once they leave our shelter as a safety net for them to fall back on. We also maintain a storage facility where we accept donations of household furniture for those who might have lost everything due to a catastrophe.
The Next Step Center is designed to give our clients a safe, clean, comfortable place to lay their head while regaining stability. Our goal is to create an empowering environment that promotes positive feelings of self-worth and independence.
The shelter is a 5-bedroom house with two full bathrooms, a laundry room, fully equipped kitchen, visitor/reception area, local telephone service, a living room and family room (playroom for children) with cable television and VCR. Our facility also has the equipment to meet the needs of seniors as well as handicapped individuals.