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SHARON, PA. Troubled crisis agency reopens



Published: Wed, August 15, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The board president said she didn't learn of the staff members' resignations until two hours after they took effect Tuesday.

By HAROLD GWIN

VINDICATOR SHARON BUREAU

SHARON, Pa. -- A 25-year-old crisis intervention organization was scrambling to get back into business today after several of its staff members resigned Tuesday, shutting down operations.

Donna Barton, president of the board of directors of Alternatives for Women -- Advocacy, Resources and Education (AW/ARE), said the private, nonprofit agency's 24-hour crisis hot line, its abused women's shelter and its counseling service all shut down at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday when the staff members walked out. She said she didn't know how many of the agency's staff walked out.

There was no one using the shelter at the time, she said.

Barton said Leah Koon, the agency's executive director, went on medical leave Monday and that Barton was unaware of the work stoppage until she received a fax from staff members at 11:30 a.m.

The fax informed her that several of the staff members had resigned.

Barton said she isn't sure why they chose to leave their jobs because she had been unable to reach them.

Prior resignation: She said the agency had an angry staff member resign several weeks ago and she believes the latest resignations are related to that earlier action. She offered no further explanation.

The agency normally has a staff of 16, including counselors, hot line workers, shelter workers, community educators and legal advocates, but wasn't fully staffed when Tuesday's problems arose, Barton said. She wasn't sure how many were working.

"We are short-staffed but we are in operation," she said late Tuesday.

Barton said she spoke with some of the remaining staff who promised to do what they can to keep the agency functioning.

The agency's primary goal continues to be helping victims of domestic abuse and violence in Mercer County, she said.

AW/ARE is in the process of revamping its operations, Barton said, explaining the agency recently hired a Wexford, Pa., consulting firm to help map out plans to make it run more efficiently.




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