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Fran had to call the police...

"Fran experienced physical and sexual abuse as a young girl at the hands of her mother's boyfriend. Now in her late 40s and divorced, Fran called the police when her teenage son struck her."

Read Fran's Story

Michelle has a purpose.

"What makes this work meaningful? I've stayed with Family Resources for 14 years because working with children and adults who have been abused is more challenging than conventional mental health services work."

Read Michelle's Story

Phyllis saw hope
for the kids.

"After a successful battle for custody of two at-risk grandchildren, Phyllis saw new hope for the kids. But then, seeing anything at all became a problem."

Read Phyllis's Story

Kevin has responsibilities, but...

"It's not uncommon. We're asked to meet with a kid like Kevin about truancy issues. But once we get an appointment and show up at his home, we discover that truancy is just a symptom, and the problems behind it aren't nearly so straightforward."

Read Kevin's Story

Kayla Harrison's story

Kayla Harrison made history at the 2012 Olympics in London by winning the first Gold Medal by any American (man or woman) in the history of the sport of judo. Her victory marks another step in a career characterized by success at the sport's highest levels. Kayla's judo career has been undeniably impressive. However, it is her perseverance through incredible personal struggles that is truly inspiring.

Kayla began judo at the age of 6. As a teenager, she quickly distinguished herself as one of the top junior players in the country. Among other national titles, she won the Junior U.S. Open in 2003, 2004 and 2005. She was a two-time US Senior National Champion before she turned 18 and she became only the third American to win the Junior World Championships in 2008. She won a Silver Medal at the Junior World Championships in 2009 and became Senior World Champion in 2010. She was only the fourth American ever to become World Champion. Since 2008 Kayla has been on a world podium every single year.

Her competitive success masked an unimaginable personal struggle. At the age of 16, Kayla revealed the fact that she had been for years sexually abused by her coach. After the story came to light, Kayla moved from Ohio to Massachusetts to train with Jimmy Pedro, a two-time Olympic Bronze medalist and his father Jim Pedro, Sr. The Pedros became Kayla's coaches but also her surrogate family. When she arrived in Massachusetts, she entertained suicide, was depressed, hated judo and wanted to run away. Through discipline, tenacity, and the support of others she fought through the pain both on and off the mat, transforming herself into a strong, confident, articulate young woman who happens to be a world-class athlete.

She also summoned the courage to face her abuser, delivering a victim impact statement at his sentencing hearing in Federal Court in Ohio. She intends to use her Gold Medal profile, voice, and example to encourage and empower others. She also plans to maintain her dominance on the mat by remaining a competitive Judo player with sights on defending her Gold Medal in Rio in 2016.

Her story has captivated audiences everywhere and has been featured in Sports Illustrated, The New York Times, USA Today, Time Magazine, The Today Show, CNN, MSNBC, among many others. Kayla was awarded the OC Tanner Inspiration Award, The Women's Sports Foundation's Wilma Rudolph Courage Award and will be named one of Glamour Magazine's Women of the Year for 2012.

Fran's story

"Fran experienced physical and sexual abuse as a young girl at the hands of her mother's boyfriend. Now in her late 40s and divorced, Fran called the police when her teenage son struck her.

On the surface, the violence seemed to have flared during an argument about taking out the garbage. But for Fran, the fuse had been burning since she was abused as a child, and married, at 14, to a 24-year-old man.

The county's Office of Children, Youth, and Families directed the family to our Parent-Teen Conflict Program. Our therapist, working with Fran and her son, referred Fran to a Family Resources psychiatrist. Since then, she's been in treatment for depression. Fran confided to the therapist that, not only had she been unemployed and suffering chronic pain, but that she had never learned to read. Now she's making progress in her own treatment plan, trying to overcome the challenges of her childhood and learning to be a more consistent, empathetic parent. Fran's son, who is a father at 17, also is receiving treatment at Family Resources. He's taking more responsibility for his infant daughter, learning to better manage conflict with his mother, and making plans for what he will do after graduation."

-Stephen T., Family Resources Parent-Teen Conflict Counselor

Michelle's story

"What makes this work meaningful? I've stayed with Family Resources for 14 years because working with children and adults who have been abused is more challenging than conventional mental health services work.

While it might be easier, in a way, to work with the victims, I've developed empathy even for the perpetrators and what the legal system calls 'non-offending parents'-those who don't intervene to protect the child.

What moves me is listening and understanding the other's perspective, and learning to look for small signs of transformation in a person's life. Without seeing those signs, a therapist really could get burned out. I know that I didn't make the transformation happen directly, but my involvement helped. I continue to learn different techniques, and I've had to explore a lot of things for myself.

"I've seen some miracles happen. The work has made me bigger in the heart- not so judgmental and critical. Helped me let go of a lot of petty stuff."

In previous jobs, I focused on helping parents change their behavior. This job has a stronger emotional component, and that makes it the hardest job I've ever had. I've learned to think about emotional change, not just behavior change. I never thought I could work with offenders- it's probably the most intellectually challenging part of the job. This is different from any agency I've ever worked at before."

-Daphne., Family Resources Outpatient Therapist

Phyllis's story

"After a successful battle for custody of two at-risk grandchildren, Phyllis saw new hope for the kids. But then, seeing anything at all became a problem.

Here's how it started: At age 3, Alicia was being physically abused by her mother, Mary- and by Mary's boyfriend. The County's Office of Children, Youth, and Families referred Alicia and Mary to Crisis Intervention Services at Family Resources. The resulting agreement was that Alicia would be able to remain with her mother if they moved in with Mary's mother, and if Mary kept her boyfriend away from Alicia. But Mary's boyfriend continued to visit. The abuse resumed, and soon Mary had a new baby. Family Resources got to work with Mary's mother, Phyllis, and, with the help of Neighborhood Legal Services, Phyllis gained legal custody of both children.

"Then Phyllis began to lose her sight, making it difficult for her to care for Alicia and her infant brother. Alicia began running away, raggedly chopping at her hair, showing other signs of emotional distress. We coordinated social services, legal services, child welfare, and health care for the family. And we helped Phyllis connect with Pittsburgh Blind and Vision Services for surgery that restored her sight. Now, two years later, Alicia is in play therapy at Family Resources, and her brother is being seen at the Therapeutic Parents' and Children's Center. Parenting classes and Family-Based Mental Health Services have helped Phyllis give the children the safety and security they never had before."

-Sandy T., Family Resources Family Based Counselor

Kevin's story

"It's not uncommon. We're asked to meet with a kid like Kevin about truancy issues. But once we get an appointment and show up at his home, we discover that truancy is just a symptom, and the problems behind it aren't nearly so straightforward.

Kevin, who is 14, is truant from school because he stays home to care for his 2-year-old old sister. Mom has a problem with addiction and, although sometimes she's fine, Kevin has come home from school on several occasions to find his baby sister hungry, wet, and crying. There's no telling how long Mom has been sleeping or out looking for her supplies. It was hard for him to concentrate at school, so he just stopped going. He might also discover that there is no food in the home, the utilities have been shut off, or an eviction notice is on the kitchen table.

"Kevin tells us that his mom uses drugs, mostly when she and her boyfriend have had a fight and he has beat her up. Kevin tries to protect his mom, but her boyfriend hits him if he interferes."

In this situation, we need to wear many hats. We need to persuade Kevin's mom that she needs drug and alcohol treatment, so that she doesn't lose her children. We need to work on getting a more secure housing situation, and she needs extensive counseling around the violence that threatens her and her children. The food bank could offer some assistance, and the children need counseling as well. We'll help Kevin's mom set goals and step-by-step ways to achieve them for her family and herself."

-Marie S., Family Resources Crisis Intervention Worker

Help for every family.
Hope for every child.

The mission of Family Resources is to prevent and treat child abuse by strengthening families and neighborhoods.

Since 1986, Family Resources has distinguished itself as a leader in combating child abuse and providing support and treatment services to families in Western Pennsylvania

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The 18th Annual Child Abuse Prevention Month Awards Benefit

From Left: Evan Frasier (Senior Vice President, Community Affairs, Highmark, Inc.), Kayla Harrison (2012 Olympic Gold Medalist, judo), Shauna Spencer (Executive Director, Family Resources), Joni Schwager (Executive Director, The Staunton Farm Foundation and Blue Ribbon Awardee of 18th annual Child Abuse Prevention Month Benefit)

Family Resources celebrated the 18th Annual Child Abuse Prevention Month Awards Benefit on Wednesday, April 17th. The event raised critical funds that will support Family Resources programs and honored those who support and advocate for child abuse prevention efforts.


This year awards were presented to Joni Schwager, executive director of the Staunton Farm Foundation, Phil Gulley — a volunteer who worked for many years in the Therapeutic Parent's and Children's Center, and two direct care workers, Carolyn Kuhfuss of Family Resources and Wanda Beasley from Children Youth and Families.


This year, guest speaker Kayla Harrison, 2012 Olympic Gold medalist in judo, spoke to guests about the trauma of childhood abuse by a trusted adult.




Kayla's appearance was generously underwritten by:

From Our Executive DirectorShauna Spencer

It is every adult's responsibility to work to end child abuse and neglect

What can we do to keep children safe in their families and in their neighborhoods? It is our responsibility to be aware and be willing to act.

Read More

Do you suspect abuse?

You can do something about it.

Find out more about child abuse, how to spot it and what to do if you suspect abuse is occurring.

Learn more

help for everyone

What to do with the anger you feel

Anger is a strong emotion. When parents get angry and lose control, children can get hurt. One of the challenges we have as parents is to deal with our anger and frustration in a way that won't hurt the children we care for.

Try these tips:

  1. recognize that you are angry or are getting angry. Give yourself a time out at the first signs that you are losing control - feeling flushed, racing heartbeat - these can be signs that you are ready to explode.
  2. take time to cool off before allowing yourself to deal with children. try to find a quiet place and breathe. Allow yourself to gather your thoughts and prepare yourself to interact with the children.
  3. Don't use spanking or hitting to discipline when you are angry. Being physical can turn into abusive behavior when you are angry and out of control.
  4. If you feel you are out of control and need to talk to someone call the Parenting WARMLINE for help. Call 1-800-641-4546 for a confidential conversation with someone who understands and cares.

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