Crisis Center North’s mission is to empower victims of domestic violence, engage and educate the community, and break the cycle of violence. We know that nationally, during the pandemic, resources for victims of domestic violence were in the news often as many victims were forced to shelter in place with their perpetrators. This changed the dynamic of giving and receiving support for millions of victims. In Allegheny County, Crisis Center North (CCN) quickly and innovatively adapted to deal with the increased need for services caused by COVID-19 shutdowns.
The 44-year-old nonprofit created the Text Chat Line, the first nationally to combine texting and website chat options for victims seamlessly. This provided a silent, safe way for victims to seek support when a phone call to a hotline could be dangerous.
CCN, which has helped over 86,000 victims, also quickly implemented HIPAA-compliant video counseling options to ensure continuity of care for clients. The organization takes a holistic approach to the social determinants of health in which checking in on relationship health is just as important as a colonoscopy or mammogram.
Prior to the pandemic, CCN piloted a mobile advocacy program with the support of the Allegheny Health Network and community sites like Gateway and Hearth. Their efforts to change the dynamic of offering support rather than waiting for victims to come forward at shelters and ask for support overcame transportation and inclusion barriers and won them the Governor’s Award for Program of the Year in 2021.
CCN’s nationally recognized PAWS FOR EMPOWERMENT program, which normally provides in-person animal-assisted therapy as well as court accompaniment for victims, produced a series of therapeutic meditation videos for remote counseling sessions. One video of their therapy cat “leading” guided meditation was featured on the Today Show and international media. In October 2021, the PAWS program was one of five programs selected nationally by the Office of Victims of Crime for funding to pilot which would provide transitional housing for victims and their companion animals. In America, pets are important family members and 48 percent of victims cite not wanting to leave a pet behind. They also work to educate veterinarians on symptoms of abuse in pets and people to increase intersection points for victims to get information about support. Over 600 veterinarians and animal care providers have been trained through the Center’s program.
Be it the Zen-like Thea sustaining international attention or their lead canine Penny being featured as an AKC ACE finalist on ESPN, the attention that CCN’s animal advocates have garnered has aided its efforts to reach more clients and raise new revenue to reach its goal. CCN is on a mission to make the case of the battered pet keeping victims and their companion animals together.
Known for innovation, CCN met its fundraising goal after rapidly converting its annual gala into a virtual music event and raising additional funds from individual donations, enabling the nonprofit to increase its budget by 25%. Join Crisis Center North this Friday evening from 6 pm – 10 pm at Cocktails and Cuisine. Register Here.