Friday, August 28, 2020

Anniversary Reflection

I started my adventure with Dove in the Homeward Bound Program as the Employment and Life Skills Specialist. After my first year, I had the opportunity to advance to Dove’s Retired and Senior Volunteer Program as the newest Program Director. My title and job here at Dove continues to evolve. I am now known as the RSVP-SCP Program Director. Dove’s latest services, the Senior Companion Program, offers unique challenges and the ability to help more people in the community we serve with amazing volunteers’ dedicated help. It is an honor that I am a part of this fantastic organization.  Our RSVP and Dove volunteers are the best volunteers; their hearts are as golden as Dove’s 50th anniversary.

As I reflect on Dove’s anniversary, I cannot help but think of the first persons and churches involved in starting Dove so many years ago. Did they envision Dove’s growth? Or how vital Dove services would be to so many different people in our community? Did they think that Dove would have a reach into five counties? The impact Dove has made in the lives of so many is incredible. The fact that Dove is still growing and changing with times is a powerful testimony to the community and people served. Programming has changed from those first years as Dove faces different challenges. They work hard to expand and change the programming to address community issues relevant to today. Honoring yesterday is easy, growing into the future takes talent, vision, and many dedicated volunteers and staff.

September is my favorite month since it is traditionally the month the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program holds the annual RSVP Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon. A time where the staff helps celebrate our dedicated volunteers for their hours of service with a luncheon complete with pie, prizes, and the Recognition of Service Excellence R.O.S.E. Awards. This year, our 44th, we had to get creative to celebrate the 300 plus volunteers and are doing so in uniquely different ways but excited to honor all their hard work.

 Dove was needed then, is vital now, and will continue to serve our mission as we carry forward into the next 50 years.

Charlie Gillaspie

Friday, August 7, 2020

30 year history with Warm Neighbors Fund

Ameren's Warm Neighbors Cool Friends
Dove has served as the service site for WNCF for 30 years.  Below, please see the updated information about WNCF program and their new initiative,  Fresh Start Program.

WNCF services are provided at the DFA Sites for Macon and DeWitt Counties

Macon County: Located inside Northeast Community Fund, 839 N. MLK Jr. Dr., DecaturHours:   Monday, Wednesday & Thursday 9:00 to 11:00 a.m.  & Monday - Thursday, 1:00 to 3:00 p.m.

DeWitt County:  Dove DeWitt County Office, 803 W. Leander, ClintonHours:  2nd and 4th Tuesdays mornings, 8:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Warm Neighbors Cool Friends
  • Applicant can receive WNCF assistance only once per heating season, which is 10/1 to 5/31 each year and once per cooling season, 6/1 to 9/30.
  • WNCF matches customer payments (within the last 45 days) up to $350 during heating season and up to $200 during cooling season
  • Fresh Start grants should not be used for matching payments
  • Heating grants are based solely on income guide-lines while cooling grants are intended for seniors, disabled or those with medical conditions exacerbated by heat (with a doctor's letter)
  • WNCF pledge may create a credit balance

Ameren Illinois Fresh Start
  • Applicant can receive only one Fresh Start Electric Pledge and one Fresh Start Gas Pledge during program term (7/9/20 – 5/31/21 or until funds are depleted)
  • Eligible applicants can receive up to a $200 grant for ELECTRIC account and up to $150 for GAS account
  • No matching customer payment is required
  • Fresh Start Funds are available to customers in the 0-200% federal poverty range only if they are ineligible for LIHEAP funds (as is the case with customers with no Social Security number)
  • Customer must have a past due balance to qualify and pledges must not create a credit balance
Both Programs require:
  • Driver's License or other Photo I.D. and Copy of current Ameren Illinois utility bill
  • Applicant must reside at the address on the bill and have active service in his or her name
  • Income eligibility, see guidelines below

Must show proof of 30 Day (GROSS) Income Must be Between
Family Size     200%              350%
    1                  $2,127          $3,722
    2                  $2,873          $5,028
    3                  $3,620          $6,336
    4                  $4,367         $7,642
    5                  $5,113         $8,948
    6                  $5,860         $10,256
    7                  $6,607         $11,562
    8                  $7,353         $12,868

Dove Financial Assistance Program was renamed from MAX in 2020 to reflect service to 5 counties, where as MAX stood for Macon County Assistance eXchange.  Below is copy from the November 1990 DoveTales newsletter sharing the news that MAX was selected to be a part of this Ameren.  Sound like both programs have grown in the 30 years!

"MAX selected to distribute winter funds

Our MAX program has been chosen to distribute "Warm Neighbors Fund" utility assistance payments to families in need.

The Warm Neighbors Fund is operated by the Energy Assistance Foundation, an offshoot of Illinois Power Company.  Money is contributed into this fund from IP consumers, and matched  the company.

Funds are used to help pay energy costs for fixed-income households.  IP selected one agency in each of its services acres to screen applications and distribute assistance payments.

MAX (the Macon Assistance eXchange) was organized by Dove several years ago to coordinate the efforts of churches and social agencies in meeting emergency financial needs...."

To learn more about DFA, please see our website at or to contact DFA directly, please email

Friday, July 31, 2020

Anniversary Reflection

It is hard to believe that in just a couple of weeks it will have been twenty years since I walked into the Dove Domestic Violence Program office in Shelbyville for the first time.  Interviews and the actual hiring had been done from the Dove offices in Decatur, so a few days before I was to start my job, I had to go on a driving tour of Shelbyville to find the office.  If you are familiar with our town you are no doubt laughing by now….it is by no means a large city.  The office is located very well for privacy for our clients, however, on the outskirts of town.  I walked in that morning alone;  one of my coworkers from another county would arrive soon to begin to show me the ropes.  I was excited, nervous, had little clue what I was going to be doing and I wasn’t 100% sure I knew how to do whatever that turned out to be.  The permanent office had been in existence for about four months, but my position had been vacant for about half of that time, so I knew I was starting almost from scratch.  My then-supervisor had worked part-time in the county for a couple of years so some of the community was aware of what our services were. Being a female, with no set agenda right at that moment, I began to rearrange the furniture a bit to make it more my style. I was soon armed with a list of things I could bring from home to make it a more comfortable setting for my clients.  If you must pour your heart out to a stranger, you might as well feel at home while you do it.

One of the very first things I learned is that Dove is an incredible organization to work for and with.  Although I work in this county alone, I never feel that I am alone.  I know that support and answers are always only a phone call or an email away.  If I am perplexed about something, there is always someone in the organization who has an answer for me.  My coworkers have become a second family over the years.  There have been births and deaths and other major life experiences, and always the support has been there from everybody.  There have been major upheavals as an organization over the years, but we have always pulled together to make things work despite the curves that were thrown at us.  Our mission statement says that Dove strives for justice, equality and understanding among all people; that sentiment begins at home.  Dove employees are treated in that manner always.

Once I began to figure out just what the job might be, our growth began quickly.  The fact that I am a native of Shelby County was helpful, as was the support of the law enforcement and court communities and other local agencies.  I also received a lot of training from other employees and from the many training opportunities offered over the years.  Dove employees are very well trained in their areas of expertise.  

Looking back, twenty years seems like a long time, but it seems like yesterday when I walked in this room for the first time.  There have been so many people, so many stories, so much heartbreak and so much happiness that has happened in all those years.  Clients who were successful, clients who came back when things got scary again and clients who were happy enough with our services to refer other friends and family.  There have been staff members who became friends and moved on and staff members who have remained who are still almost like family.  I have changed for the better from doing this work and my life has been enriched by it.  Some things, though, have not changed.  I am still excited to walk through that door every morning, and I still never know exactly what I will be doing on any given day.  That is part of the charm of the job for me.  I do know, however,  that I can handle whatever walks through the door, either on my own or with the help of one of those phone calls or emails to someone else.  I am grateful for Dove, for all my coworkers, and for the chance to make a positive difference in someone’s life every day……………. even if it is just mine.
Susie Kensil, Shelby County Domestic Violence Coordinator

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Shout out to our RSVP & SCP Volunteers!

 Did you know that Dove started July 7, 1970 in partnership with several churches in the area with a focus on helping others? Today Dove has grown to include numerous programs all working together to uphold Doves mission and serve our communities. 

Dove is a coalition of religious organizations, volunteers, and advocates that seek to coordinate efforts to address unmet human needs and social injustices. Dove works for justice, equality and understanding among all people.

As the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program Director I am in awe of all that Dove programs accomplish every day. Without the help and support form partner churches, area organizations, donors, and volunteers Dove would not be as successful as you make us!

From programs that have been hosted by Dove for years to the just starting Senior Companion Program Dove works to stay up to date with the needs of others. They do that by changing to adapt to the times. Today is no different from yesterday. Our mission is still the same. It has carried us through the first 50 years, and we look for it to carry us through the next 50.

As loyal supporters and volunteers we challenge you to help us celebrate in your own way.
  • Tell 50 family, friends, or neighbors about Dove and the services they provide
  • Collect 50 items to donate to our Homeward Bound or Domestic Violence Programs
  • Help to fundraise on Dove’s behalf to help us keep the important programs serving five area counties
  • Collect enough coupons and funds to send the next 50 boxes of coupons overseas
  • Make it your mission to collect 50 items for any one of our events
  • Collect 50 coats with you church for Coats for Kids, supply 50 rolls of wrapping paper for the Christmas baskets
  • Commit to volunteering for 50 days or hours in 2020. 

Join us in celebrating Dove’s 50th anniversary in a golden way.

Charlie Gillaspie
RSVP & SCP Program Director

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Dove is Fifty

Most of us were around in 1970. It’s normal to ask what were you doing on July 7, 1970. Avoiding an embarrassing answer for you, here’s what was happening. We remember we were in a very unpopular war. Protests sprung up everywhere. Young men left the US for Canada. The country was unsettled. The Aswan Dam in Egypt was being constructed. The USSR and France were conducting nuclear tests. Northern Ireland was in conflict. The US would soon launch Venera 7, for a 1st soft landing on Venus.

However, a bright spot shined right here in Decatur. DOVE was formed. Eight churches agreed to support a new ministry to be called Disciples on Volunteer Enlistment (DOVE). First Christian (Bethany), First Christian (Blue Mound), Central Christian, First Christian and Prairie Avenue Christian Church (Decatur), Harristown Christian, Illiopolis Christian and Niantic Christian. Ray Batman was the first DOVE Coordinator with a whopping first budget of $6,380. His office was in the furnace room of Decatur First Christian. There were 18 volunteers and 128 program participants in tutoring, sewing and cooking classes.

The treasurer’s report from November 1972 read balance $17.09. Pledges are needed. Were they wondering if it was worth the effort? Was it time to throw in the towel? No. The board had a two-hour meeting and came out with a decision to buy a house. A house on East Locust was purchased for a new headquarters. By 1973 the budget increased to $14,000 and they bought a typewriter. 1974 Nancy Jo Batman becomes secretary. A year-round system for collecting foodstuffs was initiated and DOVE becomes the sponsor of the VISTA program.

Three regional churches (Presbyterian, United Methodist and United Church of Christ), join in supporting DOVE in 1975. The next year DOVE initiates RSVP. Fred Spannaus becomes the second Executive Director in 1978.

The DOVE house in redecorated for the ten-year anniversary in 1980. RSVP has grown to over 400 volunteers and the overall budget is $125,000.

In 1980 Fred Spannaus included in his annual report a synopsis of the first ten years. ”What I found is this: Ten years of steady, Consistent progress. No single year viewed in isolation, looked very spectacular. But … a pattern was there. Each year took our work of the previous year a step or two forward; each year provided one or two good ideas which bore fruit in the next. For as surely as we’ve enjoyed no exceptional year, we’ve suffered no bad year. It was impressive, this ten-year flight of steadily ascending stairs. The history of DOVE is consistent, dynamic and progressive. Far from being a problem, this is perhaps one of our ministry’s strongest assets. Our past demonstrates the long-term sense of commitment shared among the hundreds of folks who have been vital parts of DOVE.”

As we look back on DOVE’s past this remains the guiding focus of DOVE today. Consistent progress. 

Guest Submission
Dave Webb
Serving on Dove's Board of Directors as the RSVP Program Representative and on the Anniversary Committee

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

needed then, vital now

Dove hosted a Press Conference, outside, 10:15 a.m. the morning of July 7.  Dove is commemorating its 50th Anniversary this year.  7/7/70, the first Coordinator, Ray Batman reported to work to begin this ministry of Dove.

As luck would have it, the warning sirens which usually are tested at 10:00 a.m. on the first Tuesday of each month in Decatur, were late, going off about 10:17.  This needed test pretty much rang the whole time Teri Ducy, Domestic Violence Program Director,  was sharing her 2 minute speech at the Press Conference, and made it pretty hard to hear.  So below is her comments:

Good morning.  As I think about the overall theme of this special day – in recognition of Dove’s 50th Anniversary,  “Needed then….Vital now” – I find this to be very fitting.  

Back in the early 70’s – which was at just the beginning of the domestic violence movement – there were no shelters – only safe houses in some communities – private homes who allowed a woman to stay maybe for a night or two……Domestic violence was  a “just a family matter” – abusers were told to “just go drive around the block” – leave each other alone – this is a civil matter” – shelters worked in their own silos – law enforcement had their silo – State’s Attorneys offices had their own  - and so on……..

Were services needed back then??  Absolutely!!!

Fast forward to today – New Laws – Coordinated Community Response Teams – collaborations formed – nearly 60 DV shelters across the state of IL alone – offering a variety of comprehensive trauma informed services, close partnerships with law enforcement – VITAL SERVICES – services that were indeed needed back then in the 70s before anyone truly worked with and understood the dynamics of domestic violence and how this crime affects all victims and their children, and the many barriers they were faced with.

Add on top of that COVID-19 – a time when more than ever – our services are more vitally needed now than ever before – victims being isolated in their homes with their abuser, with less resources being readily available, less chance for privacy or ability to call the police – basically a prisoner in their own homes.

Happy 50th Anniversary to Dove – a time to celebrate the many programs our agency has offered and continues to offer to those in our community – those who are vitally in need – as we work toward justice, equality and understanding among all people!!

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Update from the Domestic Violence Program

A victim of domestic violence faces many challenges, however, during these times with COVID-19, they are faced with even more barriers.  Those who are living at home with their abuser during these times during the “stay at home, stay safe” order is not a safe option.   For them, they are literally staying at home and trying to survive.

As we expected, calls are beginning to surge, as we knew there would be a spike in requests for services.  For the first couple of weeks into the stay at home order, calls were normal, and in fact, down.  However, the last couple of weeks, they are beginning to significantly increase. 

For victims of domestic violence, their abusers take this opportunity to inflict their power and control even more so, due to the pandemic, especially for those victims who may have recently left their abusive relationship just prior to the stay at home order, and now the abuser is contacting them and making empty promises that they have changed, begging them to return home, and taking advantage of trying to push the right buttons to persuade their partner they need them and promising them how things will be different.  For many, their financial situation is another barrier that keeps them from being away from their abuser. 

For children – with schools closing and them not having access to their teachers, coaches, social workers to confide in (all of whom are mandated reporters), they are not seeing children in person to be able to notice the signs of abuse to in fact report it.

Since March 17th through June 9th, Dove’s Domestic Violence Program has assisted in 84 Emergency Orders of Protection and have placed 16 adults and 6 children in off-site shelter.  Staff have continued to answer all 5 of our 24-hour hotlines in all of our counties – Macon, Moultrie, Piatt, Shelby and DeWitt.   In addition to off-site shelter and legal advocacy pertaining to order of protection assistance, we have provided safety planning, crisis and telephone counseling, information and referrals.

For anyone in need of services who is a victim of domestic violence, call 217.423.2238 for Macon County; 217.935.6072 for DeWitt County; 217.728.9334 for Moultrie County; 217.762.2122 for Piatt County; and 217.774.4888 for Shelby County. 

Teri Ducy, Director

Dove Domestic Violence Program

Anniversary Reflection

I started my adventure with Dove in the Homeward Bound Program as the Employment and Life Skills Specialist. After my first year, I had th...