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A group of women holding volunteer boxes.


Kelsey Riggi
Director of Special Projects and Strategic Growth

“We have students supporting the women and girls in our community and making a difference in their lives!”

Our programs for this age focuses on providing STEAM activity boxes (Lila Bear Explore(her) Club)and hands-on experiential learning with an introduction to emotional support tools. Middle School: Our programs include providing LIBERA groups for youth, building positive relationships with peers and group mentors, exploring STEAM through profiles of Appalachian women, and practicing emotional support skills.

High School/Post Grad: Our programs focus on preparing youth for a successful transition to adulthood and independence. This includes leading LIBERA groups with youth, building positive relationships with peers and mentors, exploring future opportunities and equipping them with 21st-century job skills, such as emotional resilience. A select number of youth will also gain hands-on job training and employment through Libera’s social enterprise.


What inspired your organization to focus on assistance for girls or women? 
  • Our founder, Karen Haring, faced some challenging barriers as she was approaching 50. She discovered through therapy and growth that she was a judgmental person and a big people pleaser, as well as repressed. These issues all stemmed from the lie that she wasn't good enough. As she talked with other women around her, she realized they, too, were being held back by lies and barriers that were similar. She formed a group of women to work on these issues and started a nonprofit to focus on women. Within the first year of working with women, several other nonprofits suggested that it was vital to do the Libera work with girls. So in 2017, we started Libera groups with middle school and high school girls. And here we are!
Could you share a success story or impactful outcome from your programs/services for girls or women? 
  • One of the young women we are working with was homeless when we met her. We were able to help her secure housing, helped furnish her apartment, connected her with someone who provided a free vehicle, and made sure she had the basic necessities. She also became an intern at our social enterprise, and we were able to help her secure funding for school. She is a hard worker and a great student who persevered! She just recently completed her degree and secured a full-time job. We are excited for her future!
How do you collaborate with WVU to better serve girls or women? 
  • Libera has worked with WVU classes and interns for years. We've worked with communication classes on special projects and social media; worked with students to do research; had students help with our LovePacks project for foster youth; and trained several students to be Libera mentors and help lead groups with women and girls. It's great to provide a setting where students learn new skills and practice what they learn, and also have students supporting the women and girls in our community and making a difference in their lives! Currently, we also have some graduate students interviewing justice and foster-impacted youth and studying the foster-to-incarceration pipeline under WVU Sociology Professor Dr. Walter DeKeseredy.