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Our History

The Beginning


The former YWCA of Washington, through its Women’s Resource Center Advisory Committee, started the YWCA Women’s Resource Center in 1976, primarily as an information and referral service and to be a “listening ear.”


The scope of the problem of domestic violence in our area quickly became evident and, through grants from the Washington Presbytery and the Circle Foundation, the YWCA of Washington was able to rent a nearby apartment in May of 1980. This became Washington County’s first shelter for survivors of domestic violence. For quite some time, the shelter was funded through a grant from Washington-Greene Community Action Corporation and private donations. In April 1983, the shelter was forced to close its doors because the lease on the apartment had expired and funds for continuation of the project were unavailable.

A New Beginning


In August of 1984, again as a result of a grant from the Washington Presbytery, the shelter reopened in a large apartment with a 14-bed capacity.


Early in 1985, the Women’s Shelter became a member of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence. That November, the Women’s Resource Center Advisory Committee of the YWCA voted to leave the YWCA and become an independent agency. The new agency became incorporated in February of 1986 as Washington Women’s Shelter and was fully autonomous in July of 1986.


In March of 1986, WWS, Inc. once again moved its operation to a much larger house. In 1989, WWS, Inc. entered into a contract with Washington County for a grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The Board of Directors mortgaged a lovely, large, older home in Washington and used H.U.D. monies to furnish and remodel the building in accordance with Labor and Industry specifications and program needs.


Finally, in January of 1990, WWS, Inc. began providing safe housing in a charming and comfortable setting. This has been “home” for our Washington County Safe House ever since.

Creating a Larger Service Area


In 1993, WWS, Inc., at the request of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence, opened a satellite counseling center in Waynesburg to facilitate the provision of domestic violence services in Greene County.


In the summer of 2010, both the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency asked WWS, Inc. to provide services in adjoining Fayette County, which we have been doing since October 1, 2010.


In February of 2011 the Board of Directors legally changed our name to Domestic Violence Services of Southwestern Pennsylvania to more adequately describe our work and our expanded service area.

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