Pittsburgh native Fred Rogers once said, “When I was a boy and I saw scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people helping.’” 

Erica Givner is a helper. And you’ll always find her helping.

Erica’s innate kindness was inherited from her mother, who was known throughout their community for her unflinching support for children . “She was the mom that fed any child who walked through the door. She helped with their homework – whatever they needed.” 

Which made it that much more difficult for Erica and her siblings when their mother fell into drug addiction for two years. “It was such a change from what we knew. But she wanted to get better. I can remember her getting high with one hand while she got down on her knees and prayed with the other.” 

Erica’s mother sought treatment and is now living a much healthier life. Inspired by her mother’s journey, Erica has dedicated her life to helping others who find themselves facing similar struggles. 

She founded Vision Towards Peace Counseling Services (VTP) in 2012, headquartered in Wilkinsburg, with the goal of providing generational wellness, one person at a time. VTP strives to foster a community where people can take care of themselves and their families – all while having a productive and meaningful life with peace of mind, independence and strength. 

As a recipient of the Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation’s (WCDC) Facade Renovation and Business Image Improvement Programs grants, Erica was able to invest in her business, which is committed to supporting members of the Wilkinsburg community. “I get my strength from the people of Wilkinsburg. They give me the momentum to keep going every day.”

When VTP first opened its doors, Erica was the sole employee. Almost eight years later, VTP employs six clinicians and two office staff members who help thousands of clients every year. 

Erica also has a great relationship with the WCDC staff, notably, Tracey Evans, the organization’s Executive Director. “Tracey respects my presence in Wilkinsburg. She picks up the phone when I call. We support each other.” 

In addition to individual counseling services, VTP also offers a Women’s Group, Men’s Group (launching in 2020), and 16-week nontraditional anger management program featuring yoga and art therapy. Erica is constantly looking for ways to expand her business’ reach in order to help her community. 

To learn more about Vision Towards Peace, visit their website: http://www.visiontowardspeace.com/