As a survivor of domestic violence, it makes a life-changing difference to have a resource like Crisis Center North in the community. The staff and volunteers at CCN are so passionate about what they do. As a volunteer, fundraiser and board member, the focus is always on how to best serve victims. There are so many avenues, many of which are unique to CCN (microloans, prevention education, lethality assessments, free counseling, 24 hour hotline, medical advocacy, legal advocacy, and canine advocacy -- yes, we have cute puppies)!
I am proud to be a member of this award winning team (2 Governor's Awards and nation wide recognition for advocacy efforts) and the impact CCN has on the lives of victims every day.
As the medical advocate for Crisis Center North, I have learned that ANYONE can be a victim of domestic violence. Many of them survive their injuries, regain stability, heal emotionally, and rebuild their lives.
Our FREE services are available 24/7/365 to help them do so. They include: crisis intervention and safety planning, legal and medical advocacy, individual counseling for adults and children, adult support groups, economic empowerment, case management and tangible assistance. In the past year, we provided these services to over 2,700 individuals
In addition, we provided prevention education for over 20,000 individuals through presentations to health care providers, law enforcement officers, educators, students, community groups, faith based organizations and employers. As a result of these presentations, participants recognize, respond to and refer victims for appropriate services.
These achievements resulted from tireless work by 17 dedicated employees, 2 dogs and large group of committed volunteers! We are a small, but very accomplished organization!
The most rewarding part of my job is knowing that individuals in my community are safer and healthier because my colleagues and I do our jobs. Sometimes, I start the workday knowing that another person is safer because I responded to their call to our hotline at 3 am. Sometimes the victim initiates the call. Sometimes it is initiated by a law enforcement officer or a hospital ER nurse. It usually involves an injury (often bruises, strangulation or concussion), property damage (like theft, fraud or arson), and powerful emotion (like fear, grief, anger or despair). It generally results in a safety plan that is based on the victim’s immediate needs and goals and starts them on the road to rebuilding their lives.
Sometimes, I end the day with a community or hospital presentation. Usually, at least one person shares their abuse history, and tells me how "CCN saved my life... a year... 5 years... or 10 years ago." That is the best testimony to the value of our work!
I came to Crisis Center North in 2008 through use of their hotline...since then I am amazed each day at the lack of awareness for domestic violence and just how invasive it has become in our society! CCN provides excellent counseling, legal advocacy and court appearances (both through people and canine counselors). They are truly innovative, life saving caregivers who provide a critical need, and without them (no matter how small they may be) many would fail to survive each day. I am fortunate to give back as a volunteer, a fundraiser and a board member, and I will never take for granted how amazing these individuals are, or how much they do to make a difference in the lives of people in our community each day! Please support CCN so they can continue to help others on their journey to safety, peace and independence!
Peer to Peer Empowerment Workshop
It is so exciting and energizing to see ninety students from ten school districts working together, interacting with each other, having fun, and being able to develop positive projects to address “Respect and Developing Healthy Relationships with Your Self and Others.” That is exactly what happened on Thursday November 16, 2017 at a day long workshop run by Crisis Center North. After discussing how students have to deal with abuse of respect and relationships daily, they worked to develop a project that they will complete in their school.
Darieth Chisolm, a former newscaster at WPXI and herself a victim of abuse, was a keynote speaker at the workshop. Darieth was very impressed by the students and our program. Her presentation was right on point, addressing how abuse can happen to anyone. She talked about what can be done to prevent abuse and if it happens to you or someone you know what can be done. She liked our approach of teaching the students to be an up-stander. She said that the students’ questions which were asked of her were very good and will be a major part of documentary film she is making. She has already contacted Crisis Center North about wanting the students and schools to be the first to premier her film.
The students are scheduled to meet in April to give a presentation on how the project they implemented and completed made a positive change in attitude and behavior dealing with “Respect and Developing Healthy Relationships with Your Self and Others.”
As a counselor at Crisis Center North, I get the pleasure of being on the front lines to witness all of the amazing work this team achieves every day. We are a small agency, but our passions and talents (both individually and collectively) all come together greatly to form a team of advocates who work diligently to provide the best quality of care for our clients. There is not one advocate on this team that doesn't remind me every day what they are willing to go through to help serve this population and often with no payout other than it feels good to make a difference in someone's life. This passion and fortitude helps keep us focused on the mission even during the most challenging of times. And fluffy, cute dogs roaming throughout the office all day is rather uplifting too!
Crisis Center North provides responsive services that address immediate and longer term needs of individuals impacted by domestic violence. The agency's team is responsive and compassionate and keep safety and confidentiality at the core of their service provision. The agency also networks and works with system providers to help community partners recognize, respond, and refer individuals to services.
Though I am new to the CCN team I have been consistently impressed with the knowledge, passion, and drive of all of our employees. Particularly as we venture into the new realm of mobile advocacy as a means of meeting our client where they truly are (both physically and emotionally). It is this innovative and groundbreaking programming that makes me excited to be a part of such a dynamic team.
Ten years of service have not diminished my passion to help victims of domestic violence. The need is greater than most people imagine. Nationally, domestic violence hotlines take 20,000 calls per day! But CCN does not just wait for victims to call, as often they're afraid to do so. Instead we reach out into the community; we are available in many courts and through our mobile counselors. CCN will come to meet you! No one who is abused should wonder..."is there any kind of help for me?"
I have worked with CCN, first as a volunteer and then as an employee, for nearly 4 years, and I am glad to be a part of the Center's mission. As a member of the administrative team, I often do not have direct contact with our clients, but instead I work behind the scenes to ensure that no victim of domestic violence that comes to our Center will ever be turned down due to lack of resources. That commitment is shared by everyone in the organization. I have never met a group of people more passionate about helping others than I have at CCN, and it shows in all areas of the agency, direct service or not. Please, if you are experiencing domestic violence or have been affected by it, do not hesitate to reach out: It is CCN's mission to empower you to safety and your full potential.
I have been involved with Crisis Center North since 2008, when I met Grace and Penny for their Canine Good Citizen training and testing. Grace asked me to be on the volunteer Committee for her new idea-and the Animal Assisted Therapy project began. I immediately started working with Grace, Penny, and the staff and volunteers of CCN as a dog trainer/behaviorist to get everyone ready to bring the program from idea to implementation. Since then, Penny has assisted the legal advocates at Magisterial court, Licensed Therapists in therapeutic visits with victims of domestic violence, and made appearances at many public events to spread awareness of how dogs can help victims of traumatic situations. CCN added the newest Canine Advocate-in-Training, Ari, last year, and he is well on his way to becoming an awesome spokesdog for the Paws for Empowerment program. The program was recognized by the State of Pennsylvania with the Governor's Award in May 2017, a great honor for the dogs and all of us involved in the program since its inception. Everyone is looking forward to continuing to assist victims of domestic violence with our canines, and to spread the message about how rescue dogs can rescue people, too (Both dogs are shelter rescued dogs).
I have been working as Crisis Center North's Children/ Adolescent Counselor for the last year and a half. During that time I have been able to help many kids and teens in the community work through some very difficult times and issues in their lives. I am grateful for that opportunity.
I became involved with CCN back in 2014 when I was voted onto the board of directors and currently serve as board president. I could not be more proud to be a part of such a wonderful organization, and it is my goal to raise awareness within our community of the life-saving services we provide to anyone experiencing abuse within their family or relationships. Our innovative programs such as our Canine Advocacy Program, Lethality Assessment Program, and Prevention Education Program are helping to make major strides in the fight against domestic violence in our community, but there is still much work to be done, and the more support we can gain for this cause, the more we can win this fight. My sincerest gratitude to our dedicated staff, board, & volunteers who help make a difference in the lives of our clients each & every day; without them, CCN's services would not be possible, and countless DV victims would not have the resources they need to become the survivors they are today!
I just moved to Pittsburgh a few months ago and CCN is my first job in this community. I've always known social work was a passion of mine and it feels so good to finally be able to serve alongside like-minded individuals striving for the same goals. I consider it a great honor to be able to learn and collaborate with these ferocious advocates and activists of change. The volunteers and staff work tirelessly in a way that inspires me to be the best teammate I can possibly be. At CCN I am given room to grow and fly.
Domestic Violence is dear to my heart. In 1981, I witnessed a classmate in high school being assaulted by her boyfriend on the way to school. What was so striking is that the entire class watched thru the window along with the teacher. It was not uncommon for her to come to school with black eyes, but at the same time, he would buy really expensive jewelry and fur coats. During that time, no one intervened, because it was assumed that she must have done something to upset him. No one talked about Domestic Violence from my recollection. We both graduated shortly thereafter. As I was riding a bus to visit a friend, I saw her boyfriend carrying my friends things in his hand. I knew it was bad, when his stop was a hospital. This has always left an impression upon me. Somehow I believe that working the domestic violence is a calling on my life.
Crisis Center North is at the forefront of innovation, has the personnel and management with the drive and dedication for success, and the mission and volunteer base to make a difference in lives of those affected by domestic violence.
I was fortunate to have CCN by my side when I went through my trauma and transition in life...now I am privileged to give back to the many women, men and children who follow and need assistance.
Please support CCN today - you will be able to know your money is going to truly make a difference in the life of someone who may not have tomorrow to wait!
I learned of CCN through my former boss and her extensive involvement with the organization. What inspires me most about CCN is their commitment to empowering victims of domestic violence, their dedication to cultivate community attitudes and behaviors that break the cycle of violence, and their focus on social justice. As a new board member, I look forward to making a contribution towards these efforts. Crisis Center North has been serving our community for 40 years, and I am honored to be a part of their work towards domestic violence advocacy and culture change.
I have the privilege of working with middle school students and giving prevention education. Seeing how passionate many of these students are about the importance of healthy relationships and how receptive they are to learning about domestic violence is incredible. The dialogue I am able to have with students and community members show there are many who are effected by domestic violence, we have a long way to go but there are concerned individuals out there who care. If you want to get involved or want to host an educational session for your place of business, community group or school, get in touch with Crisis Center North.
Earlier this year, I learned of CCN through the Bayer Center for Non-profit Management who shared with me the excellent work of CCN. Shortly after meeting with the director (Grace), I was determined to be a part of CCN and their involvement with serving victims of DV in the Pittsburgh area. CCN provides a safe and secure environment with highly trained/skilled staff and outstanding services including legal/medical advocates, education, and more. This summer I was voted onto the board and currently serve as board secretary. I am so excited about doing my part in helping CCN serve those in need. Serving on the board of CCN has been both personally and professionally rewarding and has been one of the greatest pleasures! I look forward to serving on the board of CCN for years to come.
I am employed by Crisis Center North and it is by far one of the best non profits I have been with. I have been employed by a non profit prior but CCN's love for advocacy helps motivate itself and me to continue to help fight domestic violence and everyday help families going through domestic violence situations feel A LOT safer and empowered. I have never been apart of a team full of dedicated individuals that are driven to seeing changes within the next decade.
I have dedicated 19 years of my professional career to Crisis Center North as its executive director. I continue to be passionately committed to this organization because of its exceptional award-winning and nationally recognized team of domestic violence advocates. From its advocacy efforts for the passage of the Violence Against Women act featured in the New York times, to its recent recognition of two Pennsylvania State Governor's Awards for it's Paws for Empowerment Program and for its Prevention Education Program, this organiztion makes a powerful difference in the lives of domestic violence victims. It's been an organization worth committing my professional career to, and I have seen it transform the lives of victims. Miracles happen every day at CCN.
Paws for Empowerment
By Isabelle Cook
When Crisis Center North (CCN) first opened in 1978, the agency was run by thirteen women and a handful of volunteers in the North Hills of Pittsburgh, PA. In the past 39 years, the agency has grown from an all volunteer staff to a one-million-dollar organization (http://crisiscenternorth.org/).
One of the developments the founding mothers never envisioned was the addition of canine advocates to the team. But in 2010, CCN formed an original program entitled, Paws for Empowerment with two working canines that provide canine court and therapeutic services to victims of domestic violence. Traveling with their handlers, these working dogs can be seen in local magisterial courts, counseling sessions, and even at prevention education programs. The canines, Penny and Ari, provide trauma-informed services to victims of domestic violence.
Ari (pictured) is a one-year old lab/Australian shepherd mix, and new to his advocacy family. Adopted in July 2016, Ari’s name means “He who shows the right path” in Hindi.
While Ari and Penny work with survivors of domestic violence in counseling sessions at CCN and in court, their most important job is to provide complete understanding and acceptance to victims.
Grace Coleman, the director of Crisis Center North of 19 years, owns and works closely with both Penny and Ari. Coleman and her husband found Ari at Action for Animals in Pittsburgh (https://www.facebook.com/pg/ActionForAnimalsHS/about/), which is also where they uncovered the program’s original canine advocate, Penny. When they found Penny, they didn’t know that one day she would become a canine advocate. Coleman started to take Penny to work with her; and, one day, Penny met a young boy who needed help. Joining the boy for counseling, the experience changed both their lives. For CCN, the Paws for Empowerment Program was born. Penny turned 10 this year, so Coleman decided it was time to give Penny a new role, that of mentor to a younger pup.
When she found Ari, Coleman hoped he could learn from both his human and canine teachers. Ari completed his Canine Good Citizen exam and the Public Access test in August and September respectively; however, Coleman still considers him “in training”. Coleman says he still has a lot to learn before he goes out into the field alone and is working to expose him to as many different experiences as possible. She takes Ari to work, swimming lessons, and he attends volunteer therapy dog sessions to learn from Penny. Coleman prefers to train her canine advocates for two years, before they go solo.
Ari’s first experience with someone in need was when he encountered a crying little girl. Coleman says, at first, Ari didn’t really know how to respond. The young pup ended up sniffing her eyes, which made the young girl laugh and feel better. Though Ari is still navigating his training process, he is progressing very well. Coleman says, “I believe that he is a real natural; and, I think he will become an exceptional canine advocate.”
Ari likes to study people's eyes, and Coleman believes he is able to think about his job because he studies the people he meets.
Both Penny and Ari take their positions at Crisis Center North very seriously, and Coleman and is very proud of the dogs’ successes. They are so much more than just dogs. They bring something to these cases that humans can’t. Their sense of smell is so strong; and, their mere presence makes everyone feel more comfortable.
Penny and Ari recently received state recognition, with a Governor’s Award this year. If you would like additional information on CCN’s Paws for Empowerment Program, watch the news story from KDKA: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=69vxu-KQW8I
I have volunteered for Crisis Center North for more than a decade. Great organization. provides free counseling services, legal advocacy, and medical advocacy for victims of domestic violence. I've worked most closely with the prevention education team. They do programs for middle schools (anti-bullying) and high schools (dating violence, social media). last year, over 16,000 students participated. Great little center filled with dedicated people who are out in the community making a difference.
What an amazing organization!!
This small staff has incredible passion, serving thousands of women and children annually with such little resources. This center has touched over 66,000 lives since it opened 35 years ago in 1978. It annually provides prevention programming to over 9,600 individuals each year, to help end the cycle of violence.
Every penny you donate helps prevent abuse not only to women & men in violent relationships, but helps their children break out of this cycle of violence as well. 1 in 4 women in the US are victims of domestic violence.. whether you realize it or not, someone you know or even love is a victim of domestic violence. Help us help your friends & family! $0.88 of every dollar you donate goes directly to our funds! Your money is hard at work here.
If someone you know is struggling with domestic violence, please encourage them to call the Domestic Violence hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE. Thank you!
Review from The Pittsburgh Foundation
I could not think of a better non-profit to dedicate my time, talents, and financial contributions to. After 14 years with the organization, I continue to be impressed daily with the dedication of board, staff and volunteers. Crisis Center North is an extremely cost effective organization with low administrative costs. According to a recent Bayer Center for Non-profit Management Report, donations are quickly turned around to support client services, as opposed to being directed into reserves. Your donations go to support victims of domestic violence.
Review from The Pittsburgh Foundation