About the Women’s Resource Center
In 1976, a small group of determined and courageous women founded the Women’s Resource Center to address the social injustices women and children faced in our community – violence and oppression experienced at the hands of male intimate partners and male community members. With an abundance of determination, they worked to raise funds to aid victims through advocacy, education and social change.
In 1982, staff and volunteers raised enough money to open a Safe House on the premises where victims and their children received emergency shelter. Through federal and state grants, and foundation funding, the Center remained stable and continued to provide services to those in need.
Today, the Women’s Resource Center remains a dynamic force in our community, helping 52,087 women and children in Lackawanna and Susquehanna Counties rebuild their lives free of violence and fear since beginning operations. Of that number, 42,138 were adult and child victims of domestic violence and 9,949 victims of sexual abuse. Those reaching out for help come from all walks of life, socioeconomic backgrounds, education, ethnicities, and sexual orientation. Services are free and extended to everyone, including family members, adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse and men in same sex relationships.
Executive Director Margaret Ruddy manages a team of compassionate and specially trained advocates, lawyers, counselors, and professionals who work tirelessly and fervently to assist victims of domestic violence and sexual assault gain their personal and financial independence.
Gina Pitoniak – President
Tara T. Smith – Vice President
Allison M. Uhrin – Treasurer
Maura Boland – Secretary
Our Board of Directors
Margaret McCormick, CPA
Katherine E. Leahy
Our Board of Members
Pat Fricchione, Jr.
Bernie M. Maopolski
Sr. Terry O’Rourke, IHM
Gina M. Pitoniak
Karen A. Reid
Deede Schneider, Esq.
Alycia W. Schwartz
Elaine F. Shepard
Shubhra Shetty, M.D.
Statement of Philosophy
The Women’s Resource Center (WRC) works to end domestic and sexual violence against women, children, teenagers, and men. To that end, WRC operates from a feminist analysis of the violence with the following understandings:
- Domestic and sexual violence is perpetuated by oppressive structures that retain entitlements, privilege, and power by holding others subordinate;
- Gender-based violence often intersects with oppression that is based on class, race, and/or culture which further marginalizes survivors;
- Domestic and sexual violence affects women and men; therefore, women and men working together in equality and mutual respect is fundamental to ending the violence
- Women do not experience oppression simply as women, but as women of differing race, sexuality, gender identity, class, ethnicity, physical and mental ability, social privilege, religious or spiritual practices, age, and personal experience;
- A woman’s right to self-determination is supported when there is equal treatment under the law and access to economic opportunity, including affordable, expert legal representation, safe and decent housing, and rewarding, sustainable work;
- Long-lasting social change requires men and boys hold their peers accountable for acts of gender-based discrimination, abuse, and violence; and
- The unique experiences of children and teens need to be taken into account to advance the further liberation of this and future generations.
Under the greater Philosophical Framework, the everyday practice of WRC is guided by the following principles:
The work at WRC often addresses horrific acts of violence. WRC recognizes that survivors are in the best position to decide which, if any, action to take for their safety. A women’s perception of danger is the strongest predictor of risk to her and her children. Risk assessment and safety planning is defined as an ongoing process – they go hand and hand – it’s a process of reflection, critical thinking, planning, strategizing and evaluation. Survivor safety is enhanced when systems and communities hold perpetrators accountable for the violence.
WRC places the highest value on the confidentiality of survivors. Confidentiality promotes help-seeking and minimizes repercussions by perpetrators and a society that engages in victim blaming. To protect confidentiality, WRC guards information about the content of our work with individuals as well as the identities of the individuals themselves.
Respect and dignity are the antithesis of oppression, power, and control. WRC promotes the treatment of all individuals with respect and dignity, including program participants, staff, volunteers, board members, and the community at large.
Survivor-centered advocacy is an approach to working with survivors that strives to meet individual needs, as defined and prioritized by them. It encourages partnership-building by focusing on each person’s unique set of skills, strengths, and abilities, with the goal being greater autonomy, justice, and safety for each survivor. Further, WRC resists society’s tendency to engage in victim blaming and supports survivors’ rights to make decisions that best suit their lives and the lives of their children.
The work of WRC is enhanced by the participation of many individuals with the accompanying benefit of varied perspectives and experiences. WRC’s commitment to diversity moves beyond mere tolerance, and embraces the diverse identities, perspectives, and experiences of survivors, staff, volunteers, board members, helping professionals, and other community partners. WRC strives for inclusion by promoting a safe, positive, and nurturing environment to express differences.
Survivors encounter a myriad of challenges and barriers when seeking to end the violence in their lives. WRC seeks to provide holistic assistance by responding to the immediate crises and safety risks, as well as assessing for the many complex barriers that trap survivors in abusive relationships. WRC staff combines the skills, talents, and resources of advocates, attorneys, and community partners to address obstacles that include: trauma recovery, child care, transportation, housing, education, and training, income and work, system’s advocacy, social support-systems, health-care, civil legal representation, and criminal legal assistance.
WRC seeks to make social change by dismantling oppressive structures that allow for gender-based violence, thereby promoting justice and liberation of all people. WRC is committed to building a lasting legacy of equality, peace, social justice, and a community where domestic and sexual violence no longer exist.