Tuesday, November 17, 2020

I am Thankful

I know amid the COVID pandemic, many are finding it hard to be thankful this holiday season. Missing loved ones lost to this devastating virus, worrying about our most vulnerable populations, and praying our loved ones will stay safe has undoubtedly taken a toll. Now we are being asked to skip family traditions and forego our usual Thanksgiving Day feast with our loved ones. It is hard to be thankful when things are not going well, but I am still thankful.

Thankful for the love and compassion I get to witness every day. Thankful I live in a place where organizations and social service agencies work together to meet our communities' needs. Thankful that in the last 50 years, Dove has spread their wings to adapt and change to fight social injustices and unmet human needs.  Thankful that Dove continues to develop programming and expand its reach to others. Thankful, they look to use technology, innovation, and leadership to continue moving forward to serve others, even during a pandemic. I am thankful that I work with so many great people at Dove.

Many (if not all) staff members would tell you we would like to work ourselves out of a job. No more homelessness, hunger, or even domestic violence. No more families facing financial hardships or kids that need coats. However, that's not happening today, so I am thankful that I get to meet these challenges together with them because, after all, we are all in this together, and for that, I am truly thankful.

                                            Charlie Gillaspie

                                            RSVP/SCP Director

Friday, November 6, 2020

Dove at 50 Years: Unique and Evolving

Looking back to reflect on personal or communal history is guaranteed to bring up a gamut of memories and emotions.  This look back records some of my memories and feelings.  I must say I feel fortunate to have crossed paths with the people and mission of Dove.


In the late 1970’s I was a full-time mom of three children and joined Decatur’s League of Women Voters chapter.  The group chose domestic violence as a study topic one year and I volunteered to help inquire into the incidence and nature of this newly-named phenomenon.  Study led us to connecting with a small local group of women (nurses, teachers, counselors, and survivors of domestic violence) beginning to identify the need for specialized responses to serve safety, legal and family issues caused by domestic violence.


I joined the group focused on action and services.  After some months of linking with education and training to provide services for women and children seeking safety, we managed to establish some basic emergency shelter arrangements and a hotline for women to call in an emergency.  We had become the Committee Against Domestic Violence (CADV) and the hotline number was, and remains, 423-2238 (423-CADV).

 Struggling to build a solid program for folks whose safety and survival was at risk was tough.  Happily, we realized that a local non-profit – Dove, Inc. – already had a mission and a track record of meeting “unmet needs” with a commitment to justice, equality and understanding among all people.  We hoped and asked that Dove consider taking us in and giving us a home.  What a good fit and nurturing spot for CADV to grow!

 Thanks to Dove’s Board and executive directors in the early years, this agency has remained unique and evolving in ways that facilitated amazing development of staff, services, professionalism and community support.

 Dove’s uniqueness is demonstrated in part by the Board structure:  representative members from area churches intentionally work to BE an ecumenical presence of faith-in-action.  That solid grounding then supports client services that DO NOT venture into any evangelizing or worship or limitations on who can participate in programming.  I was always proud when I watched Jewish women, Muslim women, and hundreds whose faith wasn’t shared all be welcomed and valued as blessings.

 Dove’s ability to evolve was necessary as the Domestic Violence Program and Homeward Bound were added.  Both areas have specific funding streams and standards which required accountability by providers.  Executive Director Fred Spannaus led the way in the 1980’s and 1990’s, guiding the search for grant funding and joining us in the community collaboration needed to support these programs.  Fred and the Board fully supported our membership in the Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence where we accessed on-going training and mentoring in our work to build an effective and well-regarded program.  Their emphasis on ethics, accountability and client-centered services matched Dove’s own.  Workers have appreciated the occasions when the Board and  an Executive Director have supported and believed in the expertise and integrity honed through focused effort.

 An evolving organization hits inevitable bumps along the way but Dove in 2020 is in good hands, continuing to change and grow when required and still rooted in the mission and values that have guided faithfully over 50 years.

 Finally, I’d like to give a personal shout-out to some whose influences are special in my memory:  Fred Spannaus, Sue Simcox, Ray Batman, John Henry Cain, Kim Stahl, Darrel Parish, Connie Requarth, Amy Wilson, Mary Nolte, Barb Mills, Craig Mandernach and Larry Lovell-Troy  and all of my colleagues at Domestic Violence and Homeward Bound, some of whom still do the good work daily!

This Anniversary Reflection was written by Cluney John, former Dove Staff Member.

Thanks Cluney!

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Alternative Images for Men - Domestic Violence Men’s Group A Personal Perspective

AS we enter October and mark Domestic Violence Month, I remember my introduction to Dove’s program.  In the summer of 1980, I was the at-home parent for our two young daughters.  I responded to a knock on the door to find Larry Troy, a sociology professor from Millikin University, asking if I had an interest in working on a project investigating services for abusive men as part of the Dove Domestic Violence Program.  He knew I had a background on teaching communication skills and thought it might be helpful.

A small group of us met through that summer and decided to develop a curriculum to be presented to abusers to help them change their abusive behavior.  There was not a lot of research material available.  Active groups throughout the country did not begin to meet together until the mid-1980s in St. Louis to share their programs and results.  In the early 1980s we decided to push forward with what we had.  We announced we had a program for men and were in business.

The AIM group met in a small basement room in First Presbyterian Church where the Domestic Violence program had been meeting until they had moved to the small apartment shelter.  The first week Larry and I waited – and no one came.  The second week one man showed up.  His wife and children had left and he didn’t know what to do. He continued to come for eight weeks, but no one else did.  We covered anger management, the law, communication skills, responsibility, etc.  Very slowly other men came to the group since the program was not mandated at that point.

The program evolved as Larry left and then I left in the early 1990s. The AIM program began to utilize the Duluth Program from Duluth MN.  It was a successful 26-week program with videos, worksheets, roleplays and co-leaders, usually male and female to demonstrate equality decision making.  The program participants became mandated by the judicial system and the numbers increased.

I returned to the AIM group in 2003 when I retired.  We were regularly seeing 10 to 12 men at each weekly meeting with several different groups in Decatur and Clinton.  The groups sponsored by Dove continued until mid-2009 when they were suspended due to financial constraints.

During the time I was involved with AIM I personally interacted with over 800 abusive men in Macon and DeWitt County.  The work was very fulfilling and needed.  Quantifying results is difficult due to relationship breakups and lack of accurate feedback.  Over the years I have seen some of the men from the group at work and throughout the community and have heard their subsequent stories.  I continue to be an avid supporter of the Dove Domestic Violence Program.

Craig Mandernach

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 www.doveinc.org or to contact DFA directly, please email  DFA@doveinc.org

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

I am Thankful

I know amid the COVID pandemic, many are finding it hard to be thankful this holiday season. Missing loved ones lost to this devastati...