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As we celebrate Thanksgiving this week, one word is in the forefront of our minds here at Blackburn Center: thankful. Our mission is challenging, and requires an enormous amount of work and dedication. We provide services to thousands of people each year, in the form of victim services and community education and training. Beyond this work, we are striving to address the root causes of gender violence so that we can one day stop the cycle of violence that plagues our communities. We are so lucky to have an incredibly supportive community behind us, and to have committed staff with us every day. So today, we’d like to take a moment to acknowledge all of the people who help us do what we do.

We are thankful for our incredible staff, all of whom work endlessly to make the world a better place. From running our emergency shelter to training volunteers, to providing therapy and counseling, to ensuring that our finances and records are in order and so much more, our staff is amazingly dedicated to our mission. Without them, we could not give hope and healing to so many women, children and men each year!

We are thankful for our volunteers, who show up rain or shine, helping us to run the 24 hour hotline, hand out literature at health fairs, staff events like Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, and more. Our volunteers undergo extensive training and give tirelessly of themselves to help others. With their help, we are able to offer so many more opportunities to our community and are able to spread awareness about the issues of domestic violence and sexual assault.

We are thankful for our board of directors, whose selfless donation of their time, energy, and expertise allows us to continue our important work. Our board’s dedication to our mission is unsurpassed, and we are grateful to each and every member.

We are thankful for all who contribute to Blackburn Center, from monetary donations to items for our shelter, to gifts of time and energy in participating in our groups such as Men As Allies and Future Advocates of Blackburn (FAB). Individuals, community organizations and foundations have all permitted us to continue to offer services to thousands of women, children and men in Westmoreland County each year. It is through our joint efforts that we have been so successful in meeting these needs, and going beyond to address the root causes of gender violence in our society.

Last week, we hosted a donor event to celebrate our 40th anniversary. We asked our attendees to write the years that they first got involved with Blackburn Center on a leaf and add it to our anniversary tree. These leaves spanned from the year that we first opened our doors in 1976 to the present day. We are endlessly grateful to all who make our work possible, from those who have been helping us for four decades to those who have been with us for four weeks. We appreciate each and every one of you.

We could not do this work without you. We thank you, today and every day.

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