Board of Directors
Norma Norris, Reality Tour developer and Executive Director of CANDLE, Inc., has been a civic leader throughout the years Norma and her husband Charles raised their three sons in Butler, PA. In an effort to preserve the integrity of her community when heroin first appeared in early 2000, Norma created the parent/child drug prevention program called Reality Tour. In the research phase, dozens of community members were interviewed – both adults and youth. It became increasingly apparent that there was an urgent need to get parents and their children on the same page by educating them at the same time. A comment from a college freshman she interviewed would become the spark for action. Norma asked this young man how he kept from getting involved with drugs when his best friend did. His answer, “Because I could always see beyond the next 10 minutes.” would become the catalyst for Reality Tour. Norma left her 20 year career in radio in 2004 to start the nonprofit CANDLE, Inc. that oversees Reality Tour.
John Walchesky, Mars Tour Director
“I have been a tour director for a number of years and always look forward to each presentation. The reactions that we get from the young people and parents who attend each program constantly motivates me and reinforces the knowledge that CANDLE, Inc. and The Reality Tour are doing the right thing, every time, all the time, in every community that offers this remarkable program. Our message is consistent, timely and another positive educational tool to help families cope with the scourge that wants to get its grip into our children.”
Terri Helfer earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration focusing on Human Resource Management from Walden University and her Professional Human Resources Certification (PHR) from the Human Resources Institute. Terri is the Director, Employee Relations and a Certified Investigator for Lifesteps. Along with over 20 years of Human Resource experience, Terri has knowledge of owning and managing a successful business and has also provided sales and marketing assistance to CANDLE, Inc. Terri has previously served as Board Member to the Butler County Symphony, Butler Arts Council, and Butler Health System Foundation and served as Chairperson for Butler Health’s System’s Crystal Ball. Terri has a 16 year old son, Nicholas and resides in Butler County.
Lexie Elliott has graciously served on CANDLE, Inc. Board of Directors since 2012. She has been working with Reality Tour and CANDLE, Inc. since 2008 in many different capacities including AmeriCorp worker, summer employee, and Tour volunteer. Lexi graduated from Knoch High School and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology-Criminal Justice from Westminster College in New Wilmington, PA and a Master of Arts degree in Student Affairs and Higher Education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Lexi currently resides in Columbia, SC where she works as a House Director for Fraternity and Sorority Life at the University of South Carolina. When reflecting about CANDLE, Inc. she shares that ‘It has been a pleasure to serve CANDLE and Reality Tour for over seven years because of the important service it provides to Butler County residents and residents all over the country. Substance abuse is an epidemic in the country and families can play a huge role in prevention. Norma Norris, Executive Director, is huge role model of mine and her passion for ending this epidemic is contagious.”
Darren served as Operations Manager for CANDLE, Inc. from Feb. 2004 until April 2014 and developed the operational and accounting database functions, assisted with strategic planning and the sustainability platform. Darren was involved in the evaluation structure and fidelity reporting for the Reality Tour. Darren’s service on the Board of Directors for Family Pathways, a family service provider gave him insight to the myriad of family issues that result when the family structure is disrupted due to poor lifestyle choices on the part of the parent. Darren has trained in Tae Kwon Do for almost 20 years and has competed nationally and internationally. Through his Tae Kwon Do teaching he has helped children and adults cultivate the respect, discipline, and integrity necessary to form strong life skills. He and his wife Brianne own a Taw Kwon Do school in the Fox Chapel area near Pittsburgh, PA. Darren regularly volunteers for Young Brothers Tae Kwon Do demo team fundraisers that benefit charities like the local chapter of the Autism Society & Salvation Army. Darren is a graduate of Juniata College with a degree in Finance. During his senior year, his studies took him to Athens, Greece which was a complement to his minor in Philosophy. Darren and his wife Brianne welcomed their first child Roman Alexander in June of 2014.
Peter Piotrowski is the owner of Piotrowski State Farm Agency providing insurance and financial services at their Wexford, PA office. He and his wife Kelli became acquainted with Reality Tour through Mars Area School District. Peter graciously volunteered his services to CANDLE, Inc. His interest centers on how best to pool resources to keep the nonprofit funded and vibrant. He is a member of the Pittsburgh North Regional Chamber and serves on their Community Outreach Board and he is a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity. He graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Economics.
Aaron Bonus is an accountant at Bonus Accounting based in Butler, PA. His board member service at CANDLE, Inc. began in 2016 when Aaron became acquainted with CANDLE, Inc. in a professional capacity and decided to explore the impact of the nonprofit in drug prevention. He has dedicated his talents in other capacities such as IT to allow the organization to perform at peak levels and engage current technology. As the father of two young children, Aaron understands how drug prevention now can aid his family and community. Aaron is a graduate of Slippery Rock University.
LeeAnn Meals lived in Dallas Texas as a young child, before her family relocated to Scottdale Pa. She graduated from Southmoreland High School in 2001. After High School Leeann continued her education at Westmoreland Community College majoring in Criminal Justice. She also received a trade in Commercial Art. Management positions at Walmart Stores, Inc. helped Leeann grow and excel over 17 years alongside amazing associates and leaders, culminating in her Marketing role at Sam’s Club. In 2019 her focus changed to Healthcare, where she became the Community Relations/Leasing Director for Newhaven Court at Clearview an Integracare based Community. Leeann has been married to her husband Mark for 14 years and ‘going strong’. They have 1 beautiful daughter Alexandria (Ally). Leeann joined the CANDLE board in April of 2020 with much enthusiasm as expressed in her bio statement: “I am so happy to be part of this team. I thought when I was given the opportunity to work with seniors , life couldn’t get any better. Then I met Norma and she made me realize I could have 2 passions and be great at both!!! ”
Olivia is the Social Media & Digital Marketing Specialist for Goodwill of Colorado as well as Founding Partner of Liontree Creative (formerly M2O Solutions). While pursuing a degree in Communications at Slippery Rock University, Olivia was introduced to Norma and CANDLE, Inc.’s work through a student run PR Firm called Rock Productions. She felt an immediate connection to the mission having experienced a personal loss to addiction and wanted to support this organization with her communication skills. She was brought on as a Public Relations Intern the Fall semester of 2014 and was brought on full-time shortly after graduating. Olivia worked alongside Norma for nearly two years and gained valuable experience supporting all aspects of CANDLE, Inc. and Reality Tour communications and program coordination. In the Summer of 2016, Olivia and her fiancé Ben embarked on a new adventure and they relocated to Colorado. It was bittersweet to leave, but still wanting to be a reliable resource to CANDLE, Inc., Olivia joined the Board of Directors and has been providing virtual assistance from a far ever since: “It’s been an honor to use my digital skills and background to support the mission of CANDLE, Inc. and the Reality Tour program. This service is so crucial. Educating families together, gets parents and children on the same page and starts the discussion at home. That is so important!”