woman speaking at a town hall meeting

Keeping calm in the courtroom and advocating for change

Team members Shauna Clark and Gina Pitoniak believe in the power of Stewardship. Their nominations earned $10,000 for Pet Prescription Team and the Women’s Resource Center. 

Healing hearts through dogs

Healing hearts through dogs

Pets have always held a special place in the life of Consultant Shauna Clark. 

“I grew up in foster care, and my pets were like my family,” she said.  

When Shauna met Krystal and Phil Emery, she was working as a city manager in Los Angeles County. Krystal and Phil, a husband-and-wife team, worked with the city to help community members find their lost animals. 

“People knew they could bring stray dogs to city hall, and we would work with Krystal and Phil to call the owners and reunite them,” Shauna said. “There’s something special about the connection with dogs – they're loyal and always show their appreciation for you.” 

Krystal and Phil went on to launch a therapy program called Pet Prescription Team, where volunteers train their dogs to work with people in hospitals, assisted care facilities and mental health centers.  

Their newest initiative pairs specially trained therapy dogs with children who are asked to testify in court. 

“Many children are too afraid or intimidated to give testimony," Shauna said. “As someone who had to testify as a child, I know what it’s like — it feels like you’re falling into an abyss.” 

The use of “courtroom dogs” has proven to be highly effective — in 2021, the American Bar Association approved Resolution 101A, which urges all jurisdictions to permit a specially trained canine to accompany an anxious or traumatized individual who is testifying in court.  

The Baker Tilly Wishes grant will assist with the program’s transportation costs and will help publicize the need for volunteers. 

A support system for abuse survivors

A support system for abuse survivors

Nearly 41% of women in the U.S. have experienced some form of domestic violence. The Women’s Resource Center in Scranton, Pennsylvania, provides a safe place for survivors and works to end domestic violence through education and social change.  

Gina Pitoniak, manager in our Benefits Administration practice, has passionately supported the Women’s Resource Center since 2016.  

“When I found out the Women’s Resource Center had been selected, I was so overjoyed I started crying,” Gina said.  

Gina has previously volunteered as president of the Women’s Resource Center Association and now helps plan community fundraising events. Their recent Great Chefs fundraiser hosted over 400 people, 14 bakeries, live entertainment and local catering, and raised over $50,000. 

The funds allow the organization to provide safe housing, crisis counseling, legal advice, food, clothing and more to anyone experiencing domestic violence.  

Education for change 

Key to their mission of ending domestic violence is education and social change through the Safe Dates program, which teaches students to recognize abusive behaviors and healthy relationship practices. The Baker Tilly Wishes grant went to this program, which is taught in 11 schools throughout Susquehanna and Lackawanna counties.  

“If I had experienced something like this in 7th grade, it would’ve made a big difference for me,” Gina said. “It’s so powerful to see what a young mind learns and understands through this program.”