History of WC&S
Assisting survivors and the region
Women’s Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh began in a small storefront space, offering a simple and safe meeting place for women in the Pittsburgh area. Today, WC&S offers support and aid to more than 7,500 individuals each year, and is a leading regional program for all survivors of domestic violence.
Highlights Through the Decades
Ellen Berliner and Anne Steytler founded WC&S, one of the first six shelters for battered women in the United States.
Pennsylvania’s Protection from Abuse Act was passed, giving domestic violence (DV) survivors the right to go to court and file an order for protection from domestic abuse.
WC&S began assisting victims with filing Protection from Abuse Orders and understanding their new legal rights.
1981 to 1983
WC&S raised more than $1 million to create a new, larger facility including a shelter with the capacity for 32 women and children.
WC&S’ Non-Resident Counseling Program (Support Groups) was established to provide women with an emotionally safe environment in which they could talk about their experiences with domestic violence.
WC&S purchased a new, dedicated building and launched $5 million Capital Campaign, expanding program space and increasing shelter capacity to 36 women and children.
Medical Advocacy Program was established at Mercy Hospital with a full-time Women’s Center & Shelter staff person, acknowledging the role of the medical community in combating intimate partner violence.
Civil Law Project was established at WC&S as a well-respected provider of free legal services in Allegheny County, providing high-quality legal support to survivors of intimate partner violence.
WC&S adopted the Women’s Center Business System, which was adapted from the Alcoa Business System problem-solving model, allowing staff to maximize efficiency and effectiveness in our work through lean management practices.
With the support of Pennsylvania Interest On Lawyers Trust Account funding, WC&S’s Civil Law Project attained its own 501(c)(3) status as a non-profit entity.
WC&S was certified by the Pennsylvania Association of Nonprofit Organizations for our outstanding work in the community, becoming one of only 53 organizations to hold the certification statewide. WC&S still maintains this certification.
WC&S received the United Way Award for Excellence.
WC&S received our first Charity Navigator four-star rating.
WC&S partnered with Pittsburgh City Council and Pittsburgh Police to implement the Maryland Lethality Assessment Program, a best-practice initiative for reducing the number of domestic violence homicides and re-assaults by making a direct connection for survivors from the police to safety planning and help available through our Hotline Services.
WC&S and Newton Consulting (now Aspirant) designed and launched the RUSafe app, a free dangerous relationship assessment tool. By analyzing user responses to questions about the relationship, RUSafe calculates the cause for concern and connects the user with nearby emergency services and the WC&S Hotline.
WC&S celebrated 40 years of service to the Pittsburgh community as innovative leaders in the most effective approaches to helping survivors of intimate partner violence.
Pittsburgh City Council passed legislation to create a domestic violence (DV) unit within the police bureau and create the new positions of a DV sergeant, a DV detective specialist, and a civilian clerical specialist. The funding was provided by a $500,000 grant from the Nina Baldwin Fisher Foundation. WC&S Advocates helped implement the unit.
County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and City of Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey announced the creation of an Intimate Partner Violence Reform Initiative that will provide strategic direction in coordinating policy and system level work across agencies to improve a complex and fragmented system for intimate partner violence survivors.