Laura Wallerstein

Laura Wallerstein

In 1959, Laura Wallerstein (1914 – 2009) was a member of the United Way when that organization was approached to help equip Erie to serve residents recovering from mental illness who would soon be returning home from Warren State hospital.

Laura saw this as an ideal project for the Erie Chapter of the National Council of Jewish Women. Her friend Rachel Zacks Gage volunteered to be the program chair and together they rallied 22 dedicated women to take on the challenge.

Rachel died shortly after Stairways officially opened in 1961 and Laura succeeded her as the project leader. The list of volunteers would continue to grow and include men as well.

In 1966 the council's direct involvement with Stairways ended when it became incorporated as an independent nonprofit organization and began receiving funds from the Erie County Office of Mental Health/Mental Retardation, which continues to fund some of Stairways many programs.

Laura remained close to Stairways over the years, and we are forever grateful for her guidance, generous spirit and her example of servant leadership.

The conviction and service Stairways' founders exemplified more than 50 years ago remains very much at the heart of Stairways Behavioral Health today, along with their spirit of hospitality and belief that all people deserve the opportunity for a quality life.

Stairways employees, and the hundreds of volunteers who donate their time and talents, are committed to making a difference in the lives of those recovering from mental illness.

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Stairways Behavioral Health
Kim Stucke 814.878.2170

2185 West 8th Street
Erie, PA 16505
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"Stairways helped me to work on recovery, one step at a time." -Ron S

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