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’s career is in banking, but his community services hours far exceed the term ‘bankers hours’. He has been involved since the inception of Reality Tour taking on the role of advocate and Tour Director and tirelessly sharing the prevention message. “I have been a Tour Director for a number of years and always looked 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 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 volunteers at Reality Tour as did her son Nicholas until he graduated from college and began his professional life.
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. Lexie 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. Lexie currently resides in Pittsburgh, PA. She serves as the Assistant Director of Fraternity and Sorority Life at the University of Pittsburgh. She enjoys spending time with family, hiking, and exploring the food scene in Pittsburgh. When reflecting about CANDLE, Inc. she shares that “It has been a pleasure to serve CANDLE and Reality Tour for over ten 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. During that time he was involved in the evaluation structure and fidelity reporting for 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 over 20 years and has competed nationally and internationally. Through his martial arts 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 Tae Kwon Do school in Pittsburgh, PA. Darren and his wife have volunteered for Young Brothers Tae Kwon Do demo team fundraisers to 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 have a son age 7 and daughter age 5.
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.
While pursuing a degree in Communications at Slippery Rock University, Olivia was introduced to Norma and CANDLE, Inc.’s work through the student Rock Productions. She felt an immediate connection to the mission having experienced a personal loss to addiction and wanted to support CANDLE, Inc. with her marketing and communication skills. She started as an intern and 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 2016, Olivia and her husband relocated to Colorado where she is now the Digital Marketing & Social Media Specialist for Goodwill of Colorado. Still wanting to support 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 kickstarts the discussion at home. That is so important!”
Edward R. Catozella
Ed, the first of the WW II Baby Boomers, grew up in Yonkers, NY, when the drinking age was eighteen, and it was common for high school and college kids to drink and drive—of which he has first-hand knowledge and perspective; huffing airplane glue in paper bags became an experiment for several of his buddies. He has a B.S. in Engineering-Management and an M.S. in Industrial Management from Clarkson University, is an 82nd Airborne Military Policeman and Vietnam Veteran. In ‘Nam he dealt with solders using and selling heroin and marijuana (some smoked joints with heroin in tip), and excessive drinking by many; he was put in two risky situations by a patrol partner high on dope. He has a working understanding of the problems of drug usage and alcohol abuse. Ed has lived in eight different states and traveled throughout North America doing technical sales and marketing for General Electric and Mitsubishi Electric Power Products. He was the Community Service Chair of the Pittsburgh GE ELFUN Society, Co-Chair of Mitsubishi’s Hope Committee (Helping young people with disabilities), was President of The Cranberry Township Community Chest, a Cub Scout Webelos Den Leader, Little League manager, Chairman of Vincentian Academy’s Veterans Day and Career Exploration committees, and is recipient of President George W. Bush’s Volunteer Service Award. His wife, Gail Mashuda, was actively involved in the early days of the national Crime Prevention Program, and received the PA Governor’s Citizen’s Volunteer Services Award. Their two children are in their early twenties and are both involved with working with young people. Ed brings a wealth of experience and understanding to the Board, yet is quick to state that it is the young leaders who have the freshest ideas and the vitality to continue to fight the never-ending battle against Intoxication and Addiction.