| Neighborhoods

Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

With help of Family Services, Irwin woman pursuing her goals


Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

How to help

Family Services of Western Pennsylvania is hosting a fundraiser to support its programs from 5:30 to 8 p.m., on Monday, April 28, at Rizzo's Banquet Hall, 126 Rizzo Road in Salem Township.

Tickets can be purchased online at or by calling Julie Cawoski at 724-837-8410 ext. 701 or by email at

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

At first glance, Samantha Bozich's desire to get a driver's license and start classes at a community college this year might seem like easy enough goals to attain.

But for the Irwin woman, 24, getting to the point where she even would consider pursuing her aspirations has taken years of help from a program operated by Family Services of Western Pennsylvania.

Bozich, who said she suffers from severe anxiety and depression, has progressed to the point where she rarely “shuts down” when she meets people.

In fact, she said she now is looking forward to the next chapter in her life.

“I used to get very nervous around people and had a hard time focusing and getting things done,” Bozich said. “But that's changing because of the counseling and help I get from my caseworker.”

At 24, Bozich is “aging out,” which is the term used for clients who have reached the age in which they no longer are eligible for mental-health services that focus on children and young adults.

But Bozich's caseworker, Jessica Carns, said her client has made great strides toward becoming self-sufficient.

“There was a point where she wouldn't even leave her apartment,” Carns said. “And while depression is not something you get over, she is learning to cope and manage it.”

Carns said Bozich has learned to focus and is “very dedicated to achieving her goals.”

“She studied hard for the GED exam and driver's permit and got them both on the first try,” Carns said. “I'm confident that she will be very successful and the things she pursues in the future.”

Bozich lives on her own and volunteers regularly at a nursing home.

She recently started the process of enrolling at Westmoreland County Community College, where she wants to study to be a medical assistant.

“I love the people at the nursing home where I volunteer,” she said. “I think it would be great to work in the medical profession.”

Bozich said the bouts with depression and anxiety began when she was in middle school and grew worse.

“I had a real hard time dealing with things, both academically and socially,” she said. “I didn't understand why I was so overwhelmed by everything and had such a hard time focusing.”

She began receiving help after enrolling in a school in Greensburg that provides mental-health treatment along with academics but dropped out of the program to spend more time with her ill grandmother, who died in 2008.

Bozich said the real changes in her life began after she began working with Carns, who “is helping me prepare for life on my own.”

As Bozich works toward self-sufficiency, she offered advise to others who might be grappling with mental-health or emotional issues.

“I think it's good to ask for help,” she said. “You can't always do it on your own.”

Tony LaRussa is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-856-7400, ext. 8626, or at

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.




Show commenting policy

Most-Read Stories

  1. Pirates’ Burnett endures another poor start in blowout loss to Reds
  2. Steelers stress improved conditioning in attempt to play past injuries
  3. Memories of Steelers fan from Beaver Falls go beyond simple recall
  4. Pirates bolster bullpen by trading for former closer Soria
  5. Steelers’ reserve quarterbacks vie to secure spot behind Roethlisberger, Gradkowski
  6. Music on way to Westmoreland’s Twin Lakes Park
  7. Inside the Steelers: Rookie linebacker Chickillo continues to excel
  8. Pirates notebook: Blanton introduced; Worley designated for assignment
  9. Traded after Stanley Cup, Saad not alone in being dealt after title
  10. Girl, 10, forced to strip in Sewickley Township home invasion
  11. Police: Escaped Armstrong County inmate armed, dangerous homicide suspect