~ Our Mission ~
AWARE is committed to providing education, support and advocacy for all people in Mercer County impacted domestic, emotional, sexual violence, and elder abuse. We are helping the hurting to heal.
AWARE, Mercer County Center against Domestic and Sexual Violence is a victim services agency dedicated to eliminating domestic/sexual violence in Mercer County.
AWARE Inc has served Mercer County since 1976, when a small group of committed women—professionals from Pennsylvania State University, Shenango campus, the Mental Health Association, and community volunteers—stirred to respond to the needs of rape victims. Influenced by the seminal work by Susan Brownmiller, Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape, the corp group of volunteers founded the Rape Crisis Center of Mercer County in December 1976.
By 1978, volunteers were responding to desperate calls from battered women. There were no shelters, safe homes, and no protection orders. By 1979, a loose network of safe homes was in place. Mercer Countians opened their homes, apartments, and farms to help house women and children fleeing violence at home. Over the 35 years of service to the community, AWARE has helped thousands impacted by domestic and sexual violence. We offer a broad menu of crisis, supporting, and residential services for adult and minor victims of domestic, emotional, elder, and sexual violence, as well as their supporting family and friends. Services are available for all victims in Mercer county at no cost, and are offered regardless of age, sex, race, creed, gender, ethnicity, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, class, economic status, physical ability, parental status, cultural background, or religion.
In long-term partnership with Community Action Partnership of Mercer County and the City of Sharon, AWARE offers emergency housing and transitional housing for victims of domestic violence. Our long term facility, the Shirley Bursey House, has provided safety and support for women and children since 1989. Beginning in 2010, AWARE operates the first pet shelter attached to a domestic violence facility in PA. PAWS (Pets and Women Shelter) allows the furry family members to seek safety with their victimized human family members to recover together.
In 2009, in partnership with First Baptist Church of Greenville, AWARE opened the Williams House of AWARE, a rural shelter for victims in northern Mercer County. This unique program represents another 1st–a partnership between a faith institution and a victim services agency in Pennsylvania.
In 2017, and with shared mission, AWARE continues to work with members of Center Presbyterian Church in Pine Township to open the Brandi Montgomery House, a longer-term housing program for women and children who live in the greater Grove City area, fleeing domestic violence.
AWARE works with our allies in law enforcement, health care, education, business and faith communities to share common cause eliminating the impact of domestic and sexual violence on the lives of women, children and families throughout Mercer County.
AWARE would not exist without the long-standing support and hard work of community members, staff, volunteers and interns, Board volunteers, past and present, and YOU for advancing this quixotic mission, ending domestic and sexual violence here in Mercer County. As you visit our site, please continue to support our on-going mission.
Our Board of Directors
Vice President: Corwin Somerset, Farrell
Secretary: Crystal Popella, Grove City
Treasurer: Kasandra Shawgo, Greenville
Executive Director: Lizette Olsen
Amy Burns, Mercer
Mitch McFeely, Grove City
Patti Parenti, Grove City
Jaimie Gildersleeve, Grove City