“Try to imagine what you would do if you were in a relationship with someone you trusted and you were being abused,” said Elizabeth Verterano, co-founder of the Crisis Shelter of Lawrence County in New Castle, Pennsylvania. “Where would you go for help and shelter? Who would you turn to?”
In 1981, Elizabeth and a small group of volunteers sought to answer that question by opening the Crisis Shelter, staffing it and phone hotline around the clock. Since then, the organization has grown exponentially, adding services such as transitional housing, counseling and workshops, medical and legal advocacy, and preventative education and training. They have also expanded beyond domestic violence to provide support for bullying and elder abuse.
Most of this growth was fueled by Elizabeth’s leadership and fundraising prowess. She has served on the Crisis Shelter of Lawrence County’s board of directors since its inception and has spearheaded fundraising efforts, including the establishment of an endowment fund. She also serves as a mentor.
The shelter received a donation from Invest in Others when Elizabeth won the 2008 Community Leadership Award, which helped them pay down their mortgage, keep the shelter open, and direct funds to the people who need it the most.
“The subject of suicide is taboo, but it needs to be talked about. We can’t tap-dance around it,” said Billy Peterson, founder of the Livastride Foundation. After his brother, Brody, took his own life in 2009, Billy wanted to honor his memory by starting a non-profit dedicated to suicide prevention.
Livastride offers a range of programs that encourage living for today and striding for tomorrow. One of its most popular programs is the annual Summer Slam baseball tournament, which has hosted nearly 1,400 games and raised over $74,000 since 2010. Another significant program is its Financial Boot Camp for high school students. Billy believes that financial problems can negatively impact multiple facets of someone’s life, so the program tries to give students the knowledge they need for healthy finances. Livastride also has a scholarship program and grief support classes.
Billy is actively involved in the success of the organization, from serving on its board of directors and building the organization’s infrastructure, to leading the Financial Boot Camp seminars, to joining the children and families as they compete in the athletic events.
Billy was a finalist for Invest in Others Volunteer of the Year Award in 2014, for which Livastride received a $5,000 donation. The contribution was able to fund Livastride’s Financial Boot Camp in the October 2014, which attracted hundreds of students. The donation also helped Livastride broaden its reach, promote its events, and do more to help those in need.