Since 1895, Pinnacle Community Services, Inc., (formerly Family & Children’s Service of Niagara), a multi-service agency, has provided an array of services for individuals and families in our community. Pinnacle’s services are individualized and “person-centered” because we are aware that meeting the needs of individuals and families should never be a “one size fits all” approach.  Serving over 2,000 individuals in our community annually, the agency provides services which span the entire life cycle, from pregnancy to life’s end.

We continue to see a significant increase in the number of people in need of a wide array of services. We meet this demand by offering innovative and evidence-based programming with excellent outcomes.

However, we also understand the critical importance of collaborating with community partners. The United Way of Greater Niagara (UWGN) has been an integral and long-standing partner with us as we fulfill our mission: “Side by Side, Step by Step … we strengthen our community by supporting and empowering individuals and families on their journey.”

UWGN is not only a generous financial supporter of our agency, but also an advocate; it is quite often we receive calls from potential clients or donors who have been referred by UWGN. UWGN is an organization that has dedicated its existence to the growth of our community, bettering the lives of those in need. We are so fortunate that we are one of the many recipients of such a committed organization.

Among a wide variety of community services, our current UWGN-funded programs include:

Domestic Violence Services — We operate Passage House (a fifteen-bed emergency shelter for survivors of domestic violence and their children); Community Advocacy Project, providing intense, trauma-informed, evidence-based advocacy for survivors; counseling and support groups for survivors and their children; and a 24/7 Hotline for survivors.

Youth Services — We operate Casey House, Niagara County’s only emergency shelter for at-risk, runaway, and homeless youth ages 12-17; The CRIB, a transitional living program for pregnant and parenting youth ages 16-21, and a 24/7 Hotline for youth.

Healthy Families Niagara — HFN is a home-based parenting service designed to help parents in Niagara and Orleans counties in meeting the challenges of parenting young children and to ensure healthy child development. Parents become involved with the program prenatally and HFN stays involved with the family until the child turns 5 years of age.

It is because of the support of UWGN that we are able to provide important community services that improve lives. In our UWGN-supported programs, we have provided nearly 1,000 adults and children with the aforementioned services; we answered over 800 24/7 hotline calls and provided over 8,700 bed-nights in our shelters and transitional housing program. Here are some of our outcomes:

• 100% of survivors of domestic violence felt counseling and support groups aided in their healing process.

• 98% of Passage House residents felt empowered to stay connected to community supports when leaving shelter.

• 85% of CRIB clients had no referrals to Child Protective Services after long-term follow-up.

• 97% of Casey House residents said they would refer a friend to the program.

• 97% of babies in HFN were up to date on their immunizations by their 1st Birthday.

UWGN also affords so many opportunities for our program staff to engage with the community. We have participated in United Way’s “Day of Caring” for several years, and throughout that time, local organizations and companies have worked tirelessly to paint shelter bedrooms and porches, tidy up and maintain our yards. This is important for so many reasons - our staff and our clients see a community that is invested in them, and that members of the community take time out of their day to improve and enhance our environment. By bringing the community into “our world,” we have the opportunity to educate others on how UWGN dollars are hard at work right in their own backyards.

Additionally, UWGN allows for employees to designate their dollars directly to our organization. This is significant for us as we fill gaps to keep us financially stable, which in turn helps us to provide such meaningful community services.

Most importantly, it is incredibly evident that UWGN provides so many opportunities for people to be a part of making a difference. Whether as a donor or volunteer, our agency has benefitted immensely from UWGN’s commitment and investment in improving lives for those individuals and families in Niagara County.

We thank UWGN for their leadership and for the countless ways our organization continues to benefit from such a vital and dynamic relationship.


Francesca Sommer is the president & CEO of Pinnacle Community Services. To learn more about Pinnacle Community Services, please call our office at 285-6984 or visit our website at