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Silent Samaritans in Sewickley Valley to honor volunteers, donors at luncheon

| Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

The need still is urgent to find more women of strength to help women in need, said Beth Healey, Samaritan Counseling Center of Western Pennsylvania director of development and marketing.

Through the Silent Samaritans Women of Strength Appreciation Luncheon, to be held Sept. 20, Healey said, the center — which has locations in Glen Osborne and Sewickley — is hoping to make more people aware of how they can help.

The luncheon is held each year to thank women who already are part of the program and to try to expand the effort.

“For $125, a donor may bring a guest to the luncheon, and sponsorships of $500 or more allow a donor to bring two guests. This is nice for the donor and the guest and is also good for Samaritan, because it provides us the opportunity to get our message out to more people,” she said.

Mindy Mathews, 50, of Mars said financial help from the center allowed her to start a “Christ-centered” recovery.

“I was experiencing an anxiety disorder that was affecting all areas of my life,” she said.

Mathews was unable to pay for counseling and was paying for all of her medication and medical bills on her own. She said she was trying to avoid being officially diagnosed with her disorder so her insurance would not be affected.

“The center was able to cover most of the fee so myself and my husband could attend sessions,” she said.

Mathews now volunteers by contributing her testimony of faith at the center and on videos for use at events. She makes a yearly donation.

Contributors to the fund — the Silent Samaritans — help several hundred women each year receive the counseling they need to heal and move forward in their lives, Healey said.

The program started 12 years ago and begins each year with a fundraising mailing campaign.

Healey said a donation of $1,000 can “empower a hurting woman to rebuild her life after an abusive relationship.” A $500 donation can “lead a woman suffering from clinical depression to the pathway of recovery.” A donation of $150 can subsidize five hours of counseling.

Those who donate get an invitation to the luncheon and a special gift.

Last year, Healey designed a Silent Samaritan lapel pin.

“This year, I'm planning to do something with painted river rocks to represent the intangible but essential things that Silent Samaritans provide to women in need, such as healing, strength, growth and self-esteem,” she said.

The luncheon always features a female speaker. This year, honorary chairwoman and award-winning opera singer Anna Singer of Pittsburgh's Mt. Washington neighborhood will deliver a personal message and entertain, accompanied by her pianist.

Singer, a WQED 89.3 FM personality, recently hosted an In Good Taste party with proceeds benefiting Samaritan Counseling Center's Client Aid Fund. That fund provides fee subsidies to people in need.

Joanne Barron is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-324-1406 or jbarron@tribweb.com.

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