1 The Northern STAR a publication of crisis center north first edition 2017 The mission of Crisis Center North is to empower victims of domestic violence and cultivate community attitudes and behaviors that break the cycle of violence. K-9 FRIENDS COVER CANINE PROGRAM EXPANDS 2 COCKTAILS & CUISINE 3 COMMUNITY PARTNERS 4 CARING AND SELF-CARE 5 WHAT S INSIDE K-9 FRIENDS MAKE A DIFFERENCE l to r: Neeko, Officer Donald Sypolt, Peter Chuberko, and Cezar stand ready. In late January in West Deer Township, a man had choked and severely beat a woman before running into the thick woods surrounding the area to avoid capture by police. Police arrived on the scene but knew the suspect could be anywhere, and possibly armed, meaning finding him could be like finding a particularly dangerous needle in a haystack. That, of course, was why Officer Donald Sypolt of the Ross Township Police Department and his K-9 partner, Neeko, were called to the scene. Neeko picked up the attacker s scent and together he and Sypolt tracked the man responsible. In the end Neeko engaged the suspect, who tried to fight him off but failed. That man was later charged with attempted homicide for his crimes against the woman. This story is just one of many that reflects how Crisis Center North s community partner, the Ross Township Police Department and its K-9 Division are making a difference in the lives of victims and making the community safer for all. The Ross s K-9 Division began in 1995 to meet the growing needs of the department. In 2014, German Shepherds Neeko and Cezar joined the team to partner with Sypolt and Officer Peter Chuberko respectively. Primarily the K-9 Division assists in locating, whether it be drugs, suspects, or missing people, and the use of K-9s drastically cuts down on the number of officers and time needed to do the same amount of work. continued on page 2
2 The Northern 2 STAR K-9 continued from page 1 As a locating tool, there is no equal to a dog, said Sgt. Matthew Grubb, trainer for the division. Grubb, a former K-9 handler in the division, now trains incoming K-9 Officers, including Neeko and Cezar. Both dogs came to him at age one as green dogs, meaning they had no training whatsoever. Over the course of an intensive 10 week, 8 hours a day program, Grubb trained the two fresh K-9s in everything from obedience, to tracking, to handler protection. Part of that training involves taking the K-9s into the community, and that is where another key function of the program becomes clear: In a political climate where wariness of police is on the rise, the K-9s bring police and community together in a positive way. The dogs help bridge the community and the department, said Sypolt. They help break the ice and allow people to feel more comfortable engaging with us. They are a very positive symbol. [To make sure they are at ease], I like to tell the kids we see that our dogs are just like their dogs at home, except ours do cool stuff at work, said Grubb. The dogs are quite friendly after all says, Grubb. incredibly rewarding, said Sypolt. You take pride in knowing he is your partner and knowing that you helped train him. [Becoming a handler] was the best opportunity in my career, and I was fortunate to have it. Our K-9s add an extra level of safety for officers which also provides an extra level of safety for the people who live in our community, said Chuberko. They do it day in and day out without second guessing. It s just what they do. Beyond being connected via the K-9 program, the Ross Township Police Department also participates with CCN through the Lethality Assessment Program (LAP), which enables officers to screen domestic violence victims they encounter and connect those in danger with advocates. Besides being a K-9 trainer, Grubb also acts as a trainer for the LAP program. The department also brought the West View Police into the program. We are becoming more and more involved with [the Center], said Chief Joseph Ley. We are learning more about the services [the Center] can provide, and we are creating a stronger working relationship to better serve our community. Peer-to-Peer Empowerment Program Draws Attention On Feb. 16, 2017, a documentary crew from Investigative Discovery attended and filmed an event at Moon High School that was organized as part of Crisis Center North s Peer-to-Peer Empowerment program. Peer-to-Peer Empowerment is a primary prevention-based educational program put on by CCN to participants from a dozen local schools, including Moon. Students are encouraged and taught how to plan and implement awareness and prevention projects related to intimate partner violence in their schools. Dr. Gary Cuccia of the Demi Brae Cuccia Awareness Organization shared the story of his daughter, Demi, who was killed by her ex-boyfriend in It is his hope, said Cuccia, that sharing his daughter s story would help teenagers realize what abusive relationships look like and the potential danger. The event was organized by students involved in the Peer-to-Peer program, with the presentation simulcast to the other 11 participating schools. Investigative Discovery, which is planning a documentary on the work of Gary Cuccia and Demi s story, attended and independently recorded the event. Besides the previously mentioned aspects of training, perhaps most importantly, it helps forge the bond between K-9s and handlers Sypolt and Chuberko. That bond is incredibly important, agrees Syplot, Chuberko, and Grubb. The K-9 and handler become more than just a man and a dog: K-9 and officer must trust each other absolutely. Between that need and the training, becoming a handler is a massive commitment and a lifestyle, says Grubb. The K-9s are always with their respective officers in that they both work and live together. Syplot and Chuberko have embraced the lifestyle: Becoming a K-9 handler is CCN CANINE PROGRAM EXPANDS Ari, canine counselor and advocate in-training, is excited for the opportunity to learn and work with victims. Ari, an Australian shepherd mix, has joined the canine advocate and counseling team at CCN. Though still a puppy and in training, Ari has the natural temperament and empathy required of an advocate. He is excited to be working toward becoming the Center s second four-pawed advocate. To show Ari your support, consider donating at
3 CRISIS CENTER NORTH CELEBRATES FRIDAY, MAY 19, PM THE WOODLANDS IN BRADFORD WOODS EMCEE Peggy Finnegan WPXI News Anchor Join us to sample signature dishes and desserts from the area s hottest restaurants. Sip cocktails, wine, craft beer and more. Enjoy networking, music, dancing and our exciting silent auction! Support the event with ads and sponsorships. Crisis Center North TICKETS ON SALE! Providing direction to victims of domestic violence CrisisCenterNorth.org OUR MISSION To empower victims of domestic violence and cultivate community attitudes and behaviors that break the cycle of violence. $85 PER PERSON WINE OR BEER GLASS INCLUDED Order tickets now! CrisisCenterNorth.org PRESENTING SPONSORS GOLD SPONSORS MEDIA SPONSORS Thomas F. Carmen, M.D. & Associates Family Practice and Instant Care INSPIRINGLIVES MAGAZINE
4 4 The Northern STAR VINCENTIAN STUDENTS DISH OUT SPAGHETTI AND SUPPORT In early January, Chloe Ditka, Audrey Jen, and Eileen Kaniecki, all in their junior year at Vincentian Academy, organized a spaghetti dinner to raise awareness of domestic violence and support for CCN. Though they faced logistical challenges of school, personal lives, and school regulations, their efforts culminated into a successful event. All three gave thanks to their mothers for their support and efforts in cooking the food and to Olive Garden at McIntyre Square for their generous contribution of the salad for the dinner. FEDEX DELIVERS TANGIBLE ASSISTANCE Members of the FedEx team presenting their donation of tangible goods for the Center s clients to Kelli Davis, CCN economic empowerment advocate. RYAN GLEASON: CHILDREN S COUNSELOR Ryan Gleason is a graduate of Allegheny College with a Bachelor s degree in Psychology. He is also a graduate of Geneva College where he received his Master s in Counseling and became a certified school counselor. He has achieved his National Certified Counselor (NCC) and hopes to gain a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). Ryan has worked with children at all levels from K-12 and hopes his time at CCN will help him to gain more experience. Becoming a counselor has been a goal of Ryan s and he is grateful to be given the chance to achieve it at CCN. Holiday Bazaar Benefits Victims Wildwood Golf Club hosted its annual Holiday Bazaar event on Nov. 27, 2016, this year generously supporting Crisis Center North. The craft show held the wares of more than 25 local vendors. NORTH HILLS NEWCOMERS AND FRIENDS The North Hills Newcomers and Friends held a gift basket fundraiser at its luncheon in Dec on behalf of Crisis Center North. Though the Newcomers began as a Welcome Wagon group for those new to the North Hills, it has since expanded membership to all in the Pittsburgh area. Besides being a place to form new friendships and participate in activities, the group is passionate about fundraising and helping local charities, says Lisa Robinson, a member of the group. Visit the Newcomers website at northhillsnewcomers.org for more information. Remember My Name, Be My Voice On Oct. 1, 2016, the 5th annual Remember my Name, Be my Voice fundraiser was presented by Karissa s Army. The five year iteration was the most successful to date, says Karissa s Army, with nearly 400 participates in attendance. Proceeds from the evening were shared between Crisis Center North and other local agencies. Conversations That Matter: VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN Judge David Spurgeon; Dr. Mary Burke, Carlow University; Paul Kunco, Karissa s ARMY; Rep. Dan Miller, discussion host; Nicole Molinaro Karaczun, Women s Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh; Jamie Silicki, board president, Crisis Center North; and Kea Michaels, musician and domestic violence survivor. On the evening of Wed., Oct. 5 at Dormont Library, state Rep. Dan Miller of Mt. Lebanon hosted a roundtable discussion addressing the issue of violence against women throughout our community. Crisis Center North s board president, Jamie Silicki was among the panelists. Issues discussed included human trafficking and its prevalence in our community, attitudes and beliefs that contribute to abuse in our society, challenges women face while testifying against their abusers, whether it is possible for an abuser to change, educating youth on dating violence to prevent abusive behavior from being tolerated at an early age, and what each panelist would most like to see changed in the fight against domestic violence, particularly in regard to the legal system.
5 THE IMPORTANCE OF CARING AND SELF-CARE Victims of domestic violence know from experience that risks, as well as potential benefits, are associated with every choice they make, every action they take in an effort to get safe and stay safe. The journey from victimization to survivorship, recovery, rebuilding, and resilience is often long and lonely. Given their life experience and some aspects of American culture, it s hard to find people who care; especially those who know how to listen and help heal. Survivors value encouragement, support, and help. Sometimes, the smallest kindness makes the biggest difference in their lives. At CCN, we see the impact of gifts that show someone cares : A new bar of fragrant body soap, a re-cycled novel, a handmade quilt, a shared cup of coffee, an art class, or a meaningful conversation. For example, after the Pittsburgh Soap Makers Guild donated over 200 bars of handcrafted soaps to the agency for our clients, staff, and volunteers to enjoy, one survivor who told us: This pretty soap smells like summer! Just smelling it makes me happy! I will just set it out on a pretty dish for a while. Someone who received one of 20 handmade lap quilts donated by Saint Mary s Church and Piecing It Together looked forward to curling up on the couch being warm and cozy today. Another gets in the zone and finds a peaceful place while creating art with fellow survivors through the North Hills Art Center s donated class time. CCN staff hear many similar stories in our travels around the county. We meet individuals from all walks of life who remember that someone cared about them during the dark times in their own lives. They tell about the family member or friend, the co-worker or supervisor, the neighbor or church member, the helping professional or the unknown community member who somehow knew how to listen, encourage, and support them. They find a further measure of healing by seeking out opportunities to encourage, help, and support other survivors. Those who have come through the fire of trauma, grief and loss themselves are often the strongest advocates for daily, weekly, and monthly self-care. Self-care can be defined as any intentional action or routine an individual takes to care for their physical, mental, emotional, social, and financial health. Many people living in our hectic, high-tech, multi-tasking 24-7 society find it very hard to make time or take time to care for themselves. Those who are living in or recovering from an abusive relationship often face additional self-care challenges related to feelings of anxiety, depression, isolation, and low selfworth. Yet, establishing and maintaining effective self-care routines is a very important part of the healing process. For example, consider four elements of self-care that have helped many individuals survive, recover, and rebuild their lives after losing a family member to separation, divorce or death: Connecting and communicating with others who somehow know how to listen. Activities that are interesting, fun and lead to a sense of accomplishment or adventure. Relationships that are safe, respectful, healthy, and supportive. Empathy and encouragement to feel your feelings, think your thoughts, and share your views. In applying these self-care principles, it often helps to think of recovery as a process. As one survivor said, I picture who I want to become and where I want to go in my life once my divorce is final. For now, I feel physically safe and celebrate being a strong single mom. I feel great because I don t freak out on my kids any more for just leaving one little Lego on the floor at night. [My ex-husband] doesn t control us anymore. She recognizes that recovery happens one day at a time, one The Northern STAR 5 step at a time; and that it is okay to take a break, a detour, or even a step back from time to time. It may also help to identify three to five self-care goals, action steps towards each goal, and ways to measure success over a three to six month period. Many people set one goal that will be easy to achieve, one that will be take some effort, and one that will be challenging. They identify a trusted family member, friend or co-worker who will regularly check in with them about their progress. In doing so, some questions to consider are: How are you feeling (physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, and financially)? What are your goals? What are your strengths, skills and abilities? What do you need to achieve your goals? What actions do you want to take to achieve your goals? Who will help you achieve your goals? The importance of caring for our bodies, minds, spirits, and resources cannot be understated. Thinking honestly about our lives, our goals, and actions to help achieve them is not selfish. It s good for building stronger, healthier individuals, families, and communities. Thoughtful conversations with supportive, trusted family members, friends or others can be fun, interesting and useful, and may lead to more encouragement, support, and care! In the process, remember: Be kind to yourself. Think positively. Build on your strengths. Dare to dream. Be open to new ideas, experiences and opportunities. We d like to hear your thoughts about selfcare. To share them, please contact CCN s medical advocate, Cora Dietrich Koller at
6 Crisis Center North Providing direction to victims of domestic violence P.O. Box Pittsburgh, PA NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION U.S. POSTAGE PAID PITTSBURGH, PA PERMIT NO hour Hotline (412) SAVE THE DATE FRIDAY, MAY 19, 2017 BOARD OF DIRECTORS Jamie Silicki...President Kath Webb...Secretary Brandee Abel Scarlett Meadows Lisa Miller Ameela Green Bob Rak Deirdre Tunney Be a Fan or Friend Visit our page at nonprofits#!/pages/crisis-center- North/ STAFF Grace Coleman... Executive Director Stacy de las Alas....Assistant Director Michael Brayack... Development Assistant Cora Koller...Medical Advocate Kelli Davis Economic Empowerment Advocate/Prevention Educator Frankie Embrescia....Legal Advocate/Canine Advocate Handler Joyce Lunz....Legal Advocate Jeannie Friedlander....Legal Advocate Emma...Legal Advocate Brooke Kaminski....Adult Counselor/Canine Advocate Handler Ryan Gleason.... Children s Counselor Leon Strimel...Prevention Educator Darla Barie... Volunteer Coordinator Charlene Woods... Data Specialist Please show your generosity. Giving to CCN is as easy as a few clicks. Log on to crisiscenternorth.org and click Contribute on the home page. A copy of the official registration and financial information may be obtained for the Pennsylvania Department of State by calling toll free within Pennsylvania Registration does not imply endorsement.
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