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Archive for April, 2015

Surviving the Storm: A Call for Change

April 06, 2015 By: admin Category: Consumer Education

It’s been nearly two years since my rape. As I got ready that night, I remember the excitement as I anticipated spending the evening among great people, celebrating a friend’s birthday. She and I learned to salsa dance together, so I was equally excited that our plans included salsa dancing at a nearby restaurant that was hosting a Latin social. A group of us, including the birthday girl, carpooled into the city together, where a few more acquaintances joined us. It had all the makings of a great night.

I enjoyed every minute, dancing and laughing with my friends. Not only were we celebrating a birthday, it was also the last time all of us would be together. Knowing I was moving to a different state just a few days later made this night all the more special. Before I knew it, the DJ was announcing “last song.” As we got ready to leave, I started wrapping up the conversation I was having with an acquaintance from our dance socials. He asked if I would like to continue our conversation, offering a ride back to my car instead of carpooling with the others. I discussed it with my friends, excited about the invitation and wanting to get their blessing. They gave it, I hugged them goodbye, and my soon to be rapist held my hand as we walked to his car where he chivalrously opened my door. We listened to music and talked. Not ten minutes later, everything changed.

My breath escaped me and my stomach churned as he took an exit twenty minutes too early. The rain pelted the hood of the car as he took several quick turns and eventually pulled off next to a field and some trees. There was nothing and no one in sight. Before I had the chance to catch my breath, he stopped the car and climbed on top of me. When he kissed me, I asked him to stop and explained that he had the wrong idea. I wanted to believe that we just had different understandings of where the night was headed, and once he knew we weren’t on the same page, he’d reasonably drive me back to my car. It only took a moment, as his hands pulled at my pants, for me to realize that this was not simply a misunderstanding. For three hours, I begged him to stop. When forcefully saying “no” and attempting to physically halt his advances didn’t work, I tried to appeal to any compassion he might have. I let him into the most vulnerable part of my heart, sharing that I had made a personal decision long ago to wait to have sex until I was married. I knew he could hear the desperation in my voice. I knew he could feel my fear permeate through my pleas. There was no room for confusion in my demands to stop, and I kept hoping he would listen. I kept thinking that he would just realize it was a mistake, apologize, and take me to my car.

My words fell like the rain around me, and nothing made a difference. For three hours, he touched every part of me, with every part of him. All the while, pieces of me died inside. When it was over, he stepped outside, taking his clothes and my self-worth with him. I dressed as quickly as possible. After climbing back into the driver’s seat, he apologized for being so “brutal” and drove off in the direction we had come from. Paralyzed and numb, I stared out the window in disbelief, as he attempted small talk. I was completely hollow. It’s a feeling I will never forget.

It was nearly 6:00 am when I finally clambered behind the wheel of my vehicle. I made the hour trek home on auto pilot.

This is my story of survival. Although it’s uniquely my own, I believe the general themes of my experience run rampant amidst sexual assault survivors. We’d like to think that rapists only come out at night in dark alleys, and while indeed they do, far more often they are a friend, a family member, or an acquaintance. More than a couple of people I’ve shared my story with have asked, “Well, what did you think would happen?” My response, once I’ve taken a deep breath to calm my anxious heart, is always the same: “I thought he’d drive me home, maybe kiss me goodnight. It never crossed my mind that I should think he was probably going to rape me.” While misplaced and remarkably insensitive, I think their question illuminates that there is still a great deal of work to be done to change the way we think about these crimes. We have to stop wondering what the victim could have done differently, and start asking what we can do differently as a society to minimize rapists’ propensity to act.

Ultimately, I think it’s just easier to blame the victim. While most of the reactions I have received in response to my assault have been encouraging and supportive, I have also had family and friends inadvertently respond by blaming something I did or did not do. As hurtful as their replies were, I was admittedly beating myself up with the same questions. “What could I have done differently?” “Why didn’t I…?” I began to wonder at the logic behind this reasoning. Where were these questions of blame originating?

I’ve come to this conclusion: we like to feel that we are safe; that evil lives in a far away land. When our world is penetrated by a darkness, such as sexual assault, we want to believe that there is a reason it happened. We want to believe that the victims must have done something to bring it about. Because if it was the victim’s fault, then we can quickly take the whole terrible ordeal and box it up. We can simply avoid whatever culprit we’ve chosen, rather than face the pain, the questions, and the unsettling reality that sometimes bad things just happen. Undeserved. Unprovoked. Unwanted. They just happen. Sometimes, people choose evil over good. Once we’re ready to admit this, to sit in the discontentment of all our unanswerable questions and to place the blame where it belongs - with the one who chose to commit the heinous act – then, and only then, can family and friends accompany victims through the aftermath. Then and only then, can we as victims begin our journey to wholeness.

I could not have known that night, as I laughed and danced with my friends, that I was experiencing the final carefree moments of the life I once knew. In only a few hours, my world would be irrevocably changed. That rainy evening destroyed the woman I knew so well as “myself.” The Danielle my family loved, the one my friends knew, the one I felt safe and comfortable being, was shattered, without my consent, sending me on a painful journey to build someone new out of the nothingness. I never asked for this. I didn’t want this. I know I didn’t deserve this. My assailant, alone, is responsible. He is responsible for his choices, his actions, and my pain. He chose to drive to a deserted location and he chose to persist after I asked, then begged, him to stop. He chose to strip me of my clothing, my vulnerability, and my dignity.

What I thought was an innocent, well-intended gesture to drive me to my car to get to know me better, left me broken, with not even me knowing who I was. He had every reason and every opportunity to make a different choice. It’s time to place blame where blame belongs. We need to look at the source of the problem, rather than those impacted by it, to finally examine the epidemic itself: how it’s spreading, why it’s spreading, the root of the infection. Let’s start asking “Why do rapists rape?” instead of “Why do victims get victimized?” Instead of asking, “What were you wearing?” Or “Why did you accept a ride?”, or any other query that insinuates the victim could have somehow prevented the assault, let’s ask why our culture accepts those questions as reasonable in the first place. We have to stop ostracizing those affected by this painful crime and begin working to cure the epidemic itself.

-Danielle Castellucci hopes to bring light from this darkness. Subsequently, she is working toward her graduate degree in Forensic Psychology and volunteers locally as a victim advocate. You can find more on her personal journey to healing and venture through the legal system on her blog: www.diaryofasojourn.com

Looking for Help? Go Virtual

April 06, 2015 By: admin Category: Consumer Education


Before you sign away your profits by leasing more office space, take a minute to consider saving money by hiring virtual employees. Using virtual employees not only helps conserve expenses involved in providing physical space for employees, it can also increase your options for finding quality workers. Jobsearch site Flexjobs found a 27 percent increase in the number of remote jobs posted over the last year, signaling that the option to work from home is becoming more accepted and widely available across industries.
It’s a smart concept, but can you make remote hiring work for your business? Believe me, it is possible. While I sometimes miss the atmosphere of a busy office, there are so many positives about having virtual employees, I want to share how my business has made it work.Virtual Workers
1. Get a good cloud system. Whether you use Google Docs, DropBox or another cloud storage system, you’ll want an easy way to store and share files between you and employees. It’s also a great way to share large files and ensure everyone has access to the most updated versions.
2. Set expectations from the beginning. Managing remote workers means putting together a clear system of procedures and communication. What hours do you expect the workers to be available and what do you expect in terms of response times? If you and your employees work in different time zones, schedule specific times to talk or at least weekly conference calls to make sure everyone stays in the know.
3. Talk and talk some more. You can set up weekly Skype calls or have an actual videoconference with a tool like GoToMeeting.com or Chromebox for Meetings to share slideshows, PowerPoint presentations and more in real-time online. If you live close enough to meet in person, make sure you get together at least once a month to maintain company enthusiasm.

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at rieva@smallbizdaily.com, follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.

The Reality of Human Sex Trafficking

April 06, 2015 By: admin Category: Consumer Education

By Diana Fletcher

How sick and absurd would it be if I called my friends and said, “Hey, I have this 5 year old boy/girl here, and we can do whatever we want with him/her….come on over!”
I cannot even imagine saying those words, thinking those thoughts and living in that space. Yet, that is what is going on with people who fuel the sex trafficking industry. And it is an industry. It is hugely lucrative, highly developed, and very, very sick.
So what can we do? What can we do to combat this horrendous situation?
We can talk about it.
We can stop it by bringing it into the light.
We have to open our eyes. there are more slaves now in the world than at any time in history.
The abuse of children –boys and girls–is horrifying and disgusting, yet very real.
It is sick at any level.
Even if it is not the Pedophile Crowd, you have the people fueling the market for prostitutes who did not choose to be prostitutes.
Young women and men who have been forced into this situation.
This is not a victimless crime.
We grew up with this idea that prostitutes wanted to be prostitutes and really, what was the big deal?
Now we know better and it’s time to pull off the blinders, wake up and protect other human beings!
No one should ever be forced into doing something they don’t want to, especially vulnerable young children and helpless men and women. Ever.
Human Trafficking is such an overwhelmingly horrific issue that it is easy to get discouraged when you are active in the fight.
But I realized today that there is something that is making me feel very hopeful. There are more and more people trying to help.
I go to Twitter and find more and more organizations and people to follow who really want to stop this crime against people. There are individuals and groups speaking out and fundraising to raise money to help rescue people and support survivors.
There are people and groups who are training law enforcement personnel and working to change laws.
All of this makes me happy. If you focus too much on how big of a problem this is, it is easy to feel sad and helpless. But if you focus on the hope that things can change, it’s a whole different feeling.

If you want to help, please inform yourself on the subject and spread the word about slavery.
Here are some places to learn more:
The Polaris Project www.Polarisproject.org
International Justice Mission https://www.ijm.org
The Project to End Human Trafficking www.endhumantrafficking.org
Hotline # 1 888-3737-888

STANDING FIRM Against Partner Violence

April 06, 2015 By: admin Category: Consumer Education

If you own or manage a business, you cannot afford to write off the issue of partner violence as a private matter confined to the home. With daily accounts in the news and more than one million people reporting a violent assault by an intimate partner each year, we cannot ignore the problem. In Pennsylvania alone, approximately 100,000 victims of partner violence seek assistance every year.
At STANDING FIRM, we identify ourselves as “The Business Case to End Partner Violence.” We assist companies of all types and sizes to implement policies that deal with partner violence and its impact upon the work place.
STANDING FIRM equips employers with the knowledge necessary to address the financial, safety and human costs of partner violence on the workplace. It arms your company or organization with the necessary tools to take effective action regardless of the size and structure of your workforce.
Whether your company employs 10 or 10,000, partner violence has far-reaching consequences. In fact, more than half of partner violence related homicides of female employees in the U.S. occur in workplaces with fewer than 20 employees. Some other startling facts:
• 94% of corporate security directors rank partner violence as a high security problem
• 74% of abusers report having easy access to their intimate partner’s workplace, with 21% of them admitting contacting the victim at the workplace in violation of a no-contact agreement
• Nationally, 25% of workplace violence events are related to domestic violence.
We encourage you to go to our website for more information: standingfirmswpa.org, and we invite you to contact us with any concerns you may have regarding partner violence at your place of business.
Not a manager or business owner and would like to see your employer address the realities of domestic violence? Please let us know! We’ll be happy to let them know all of the services we can provide. Call 412.421.3682.

April 2015 Events

April 06, 2015 By: admin Category: Consumer Education


Business Exchange Networking Lunch
* Give a 1-2 minute commercial for your business.
* Bring business cards, brochures, and samples.
* Make new business contacts.
April 1- Wexford, Four Points by Sheraton Pittsburgh North,
910 Sheraton Drive, Mars/Wexford, PA 16046
RSVP: email Carol Briney at
April 8- Mount Lebanon, The Devonshire of Mount Lebanon,
1050 McNeilly Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15226
RSVP: email Carol Briney at Carol@CarolABriney.com
April 24-Fox Chapel, Comfort Inn (Old Holiday Inn) in RIDC Park,
Ohara Twp
RSVP: email Carol Briney at
Time: 11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Cost: $18 (Bring cash; No-shows will be billed for the lunch)
RSVP: By Monday prior to the event
For more info, go to: http://clicks.aweber.com/y/ct/?l=4gu7_&m=JF3C_UsZaeZhGz&b=bkOnMsL_f1BKzRo1zpu5fA.


Write Your Book to Build Your Business
Presented by Bonnie Budzowski

If you want to write a book to build your business, I invite you
to be my guest at a FREE breakfast seminar.

Learn details about how you can get focused and get your book
underway. Get an overview of your publishing options.

Date: April 2, 2015
Time: 8:00 - 10:00 a.m.
Place: Cambria Suites Pittsburgh at Consol Energy Center
Host: Incredible Messages
Cost: Complimentary
RSVP: Required in advance

Register online at:http://clicks.aweber.com/y/ct/?l=4gu7_&m=JF3C_UsZaeZhGz&b=4WlkzIjZnwgE1Q6xD3Rdvg


Network After Work
Network After Work is America’s premier face-to-face business
networking company with monthly mixer events in over 40 cities
catering to nearly one million members. Attendees make valuable
connections with other members of their business community while
enjoying different exciting venues including clubs, restaurants,
hotels and special event locations. Events attract a diverse mix
of up to several hundred professionals from all industries and
career levels. It all takes place on a weekday right after work
in a fun and relaxed atmosphere conducive to making connections.

Name-tags color coded by industries help sort through the many
opportunities while a free drink and light bites before 7 pm
helps get the ball rolling right from the start.

Date: April 8, 2015
Time: 6:00 p.m.- 9:00 pm
Place: Buckhead Saloon, 225 W Station Square Dr, Pittsburgh
Host: Network After Work
Cost: First 100 Tickets: $12; Regular Price-$15;
At The Door With RSVP-$20; At The Door NO RSVP-$25
RSVP: Early registration encouraged
Register online at:


Best Practices for Buying and Selling a Business
* Wendy P. Staso, President of Huckestein Mechanical Services, Inc.
* Denise DeSimone, Chairman/Founder of C-leveled
* Yvonne Campos, Founding CEO of Campos, Inc

From the due diligence process needed to organize your business
for sale and understanding how to avoid pitfalls in preparing,
valuing, and getting the best price for your business to knowing
what to look for in a business, these women have done it all!

Learn more about preparing a business for sale, building your
business to sell, and purchasing a business from this great
panel of women who know how it’s done.

visit our website at http://clicks.aweber.com/y/ct/?l=4gu7_&m=JF3C_UsZaeZhGz&b=zFc57FznD.6lvU.huQ0teQ

Date: April 10, 2015
Time: 7:30 AM - 9:30 AM (Breakfast served at 7:30 AM)
Place: James Laughlin Music Hall, Chatham University, Shadyside
Host: The Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship at Chatham University
Cost: $25 (includes continental breakfast)
Students- $12 with valid ID (Email pdecker@chatham.edu)
RSVP: Suggested by April 7
Questions? Contact 412-365-1253
Register: http://clicks.aweber.com/y/ct/?l=4gu7_&m=JF3C_UsZaeZhGz&b=zFc57FznD.6lvU.huQ0teQ

April 10, 2015
South Hills Country Club

The monthly luncheon meeting of the Women’s Networking of the Brentwood Baldwin Whitehall Chamber of Commerce will meet on Friday, April 10, noon, at South Hills Country Club. . Please plan on attending and bring a friend. We welcome members and non-members. Everyone will pass out cards and brochures and present a one-minute “commercial.”
Guest Speaker
Carol Birney
Slowing Down, To Power Up!

In this classroom that we call earth, we have been taught that he or she with the busiest schedule and the craziest life is the most successful.

In this inspiring, and high-energy keynote Carol will share ideas on how to assess what it is that you really want in your life and how to go about creating the life you want to live.

You will discover:

• Your priorities,

• Learn to live without guilt,

• Carol’s personal favorite - learn to say “no.”

In this talk, Carol will mix her irreverent sense of humor with clear, powerful and heart centered insights. She will give you simple, yet powerful, steps to take so that you too can create changes in your life.
You will leave knowing that you have the power to create a fulfilling life that you will enjoy.
Lunch for Chamber Members - $20 - Bring a friend!
Lunch for Non-Members - $25
Display Table $10
Please make a reservation by contacting our secretary:
Mary Dilla - secretary@bbwchamber.com


Email Marketing on a Budget
Speaker: Matt Tomsho
How, Why, When, and to Whom? What makes email such a used and
abused marketing tool and how you can do it right on a tight budget.
Date: April 15, 2015
Time: 12:00 - 1:00 p.m.
Place: Volunteers of America, 1650 Main Street, Sharpsburg, PA
Host: Volunteers of America of Pennsylvania
Cost: Free (Bring a brown bag lunch)

To register, call 412.782.5344 (x209) or email


Inspired Women Paying it Forward

New Launch! A new Philanthropic/Networking event raising $10,000
at quarterly, Happy Hour meetings for women’s initiatives locally
and globally. Nominate your favorite non-profit! Cash Bar and
Food Available.

Date: April 16, 2015
Time: 6:00 - 7:00 p.m.
Place: DoubleTree By Hilton – Cranberry
Host: Inspired Women
Cost: No charge to attend; $100 requested for featured charity
RSVP: Suggested by April 13

Questions: Call Debra Dion Krischke at 724-935-6100.
Register online at:

Disability Resource Breakfast
Thursday, April 16, 2015
8:30 – 9:30 AM
Speaker: Cynthia Berger, Berger and Green
Topic: Work options and your disability benefits.
What should you expect when you get Social Security disability benefits? What are your options for continuing to do productive work? Join us to better understand your disability benefits.
Volunteers of America of Pennsylvania
1650 Main Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15215
RSVP: 412.782.5344 x 209 or volunteersofamerica@voapa.org

Women’s Power Lunch

Come be a part of the longest running networking luncheon in the
Pittsburgh area. Bring 50 business cards or brochures to hand
out and be prepared to give a short presentation on your business
to introduce yourself to other business women and professionals.

Date: April 17, 2015
Time: 1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Place: To be announced
Cost: $22.00 (Prepayment required)
RSVP: By April 15th
Questions: Contact Suzanne at Suzanne@womenspowerlunch.com or 724-452-5152.
Register online at: http://clicks.aweber.com/y/ct/?l=4gu7_&m=JF3C_UsZaeZhGz&b=YO61BRw44ZEMoGEy2Lnddw


Get Noticed on LinkedIn
Presented by Cindy Rack
Date: April 18, 2015
Time: 8:00 a.m. – 12 noon
Location: Sheraton Station Square, 300 W Station Square Dr,
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
Host: National Speakers Association, Pittsburgh Chapter
Cost: NSA Members & Affiliates-$45; Nonmembers-$55
(Includes networking lunch.)
RSVP: Suggested by April 15th

For more information and to register, go to:http://clicks.aweber.com/y/ct/?l=4gu7_&m=JF3C_UsZaeZhGz&b=kphPHvoEABLElbi.oJm.uA.


Date: April 25, 2015
Time: 9:00 a.m.- 5:00 p.m., followed by evening banquet
Place: DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel – Meadow Lands
340 Racetrack Road, Washington, PA 15301
Sponsor: District 13 Toastmasters
Cost: See conference web site for pricing options
RSVP: Suggested by April 20

Registration Web Address:


Dare to be Aware of Your True Potential
Presented by Lisa Pustelak

Date: April 28, 2015
Time: 1:00 - 3:00 p.m.
Place: Special virtual event (Participate from home or work)
Host: Pittsburgh Professional Women
RSVP: Early registration encouraged

Register online at:


Jazz Happy Hour Networking

A casual twice-a month networking event for those interested in
business innovation in Pittsburgh. A jazz, soul and blues
happy hour show plus open-mike interviews with local executives.

Created by Jessica Lee, a successful entrepreneur and musician,
Jessica Lee’s Jazz Happy Hour promotes live music in downtown
Pittsburgh and assists the entrepreneurial networking of the
region with funding and partnering opportunities.

Date: April 29, 2015
Time: 5:30 - 8 p.m.
Place: Rivers Club, 301 Grant Street, Level Four,
One Oxford Centre, Pittsburgh, PA 15219
Host: Jessica Lee
Cost: $5 (hors d’ouevres included)

Jazz Networking events are held on the second and final
Wednesdays of each month. For information on upcoming events,
visit http://clicks.aweber.com/y/ct/?l=4gu7_&m=JF3C_UsZaeZhGz&b=MDEUAaVtfrt4muhcBX2WZg
To RSVP, call 412-391-5227 or email erin.sustar@ourclub.com.