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Jeannette woman turns attention toward PTSD project

| Wednesday, July 10, 2013, 9:02 p.m.
Margie Stanislaw | The Jeannette Spirit
A home in Jeannette was 'flamingoed' with the help of Lisa Scalzitti to raise funds for the World Vision mission to end hunger.
Margie Stanislaw | The Jeannette Spirit
Richard Hice, one of the 30 hour famine participants, makes his escape after 'flamingoing' a yard with Lisa Scalzitti.
Margie Stanislaw | The Jeannette Spirit
Lisa Scalzitti has been active in the Salvation Army throughout her life.

After many years of working with the Salvation Army and assisting people through personal and natural disasters, Lisa Scalzitti of Jeannette will be an intern this summer at the Westmoreland County Juvenile Probation Department with the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Project.

Westmoreland County Juvenile Probation is Pennsylvania's demonstration site for the statewide project. Treatment for PTSD in juvenile offenders has been identified as a priority in Pennsylvania, as a large number of juvenile offenders, especially females, are believed to have a sustained history of trauma.

Scalzitti is originally from Harrison City and attended Penn Trafford High School. She moved into the City of Jeannette about eight years ago.

“I've been a member of the Salvation Army since I was 3 days old,” said Scalzitti, “At least that's what I was told.”

She has been active in the congregation most of her life. As a child, she was in the Sunbeams, Timbrels, participated in Bible Bowl, and joined the church as a Junior Soldier.

As an adult and church member Scalzitti is considered a Senior Soldier and she has also volunteered with various activities including ringing the bell during Red Kettle Season and teaching Sunday school.

For the past three years, Scalzitti has worked at the Jeannette Salvation Army and Worship Center as a program assistant. Her job consists of fundraising, assisting with the music school, and planning and implementing programs for children and teens.

She also helps commanding officer Major Kathleen Waddell with adult programming at the center. Most recently Scalzitti organized a 30 hour famine to support World Vision, an organization that strives to end world hunger. Teen and young adult participants solicited financial pledges to help the World Vision mission and did not eat for 30 hours.

The young people were locked down at the Salvation Army Center from noon on a Friday until 6 p.m. on Saturday.

To assist with raising funds, the group also “flamingoed” several homes in the community. Scalzitti and the teens placed pink plastic flamingos on various lawns and then texted ransom notes to the homeowners “demanding” funds to support the World Vision mission in exchange for the flamingos moving on to another home.

Two years ago, Scalzitti also began attending college after her involvement with the Jeannette Circles Initiative.

She will graduate from Westmoreland County Community College in December with an associate's degree in human services and then continue her education at Seton Hill University. Her internship at juvenile probation is part of the academic requirements for her degree.

“I've seen a lot of trauma working at the Salvation Army,” said Scalzitti, “and now I'm learning about it. It can be really bad.”

Scalzitti also loves music and plays the trumpet, the coronet and the alto horn. She is learning to play the piano, the drums and the guitar.

“Music is my hobby. I like learning new instruments and playing calms me.”

Scalzitti has played with the Salvation Army's Western Pennsylvania Divisional Band.

In addition to her work, school and music, Scalzitti has a pet cat named Ralphie and enjoys spending time with her family. To learn more about the Salvation Army, PTSD, or music, get to know neighbor Lisa Scalzitti.

Editor's note: Meet Your Neighbors is a recurring feature in The Jeannette Spirit. If you know of a neighbor with an interesting life story to tell, someone who deserves some recognition for volunteer work, a resident with a special talent or an avid collector who would like to be featured, call the Spirit at 724-838-5154 or send an email to

Margie Stanislaw is a freelance writer.