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Friday, September 23, 2016

And the winners are……

Last week Dove Inc. Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) of Macon and DeWitt Counties held their 40th Annual Volunteer appreciation Luncheon to celebrate the volunteers who do so much in our communities. Every year we accept nominations for outstanding volunteers for our Recognition of Service Excellence (ROSE) award. We then honor one man, woman, couple, and volunteer station at our luncheon. This year the selection committee had their work cut out for them with all of the wonderful nominations but ultimately had to choose just one for each category.

Our ROSE award winner in the men’s category was Mr. Kenneth “Dick” McQuality who has been an RSVP volunteer since 2007. He currently volunteers twice a week at the Cancer Care Center with Decatur Memorial Hospital. His nominator wrote “he is always very helpful, courteous, and friendly with the patients and their families” and we couldn’t agree more.

The ROSE award winner for the women was Barbara Higdon. Barbara has been an RSVP for over 16 years and has logged an impressive 8959 service hours in our community. Currently Barb serves at several different locations spreading love and dedication to many places including The Good Samaritan Inn, NorthEast Community Fund, Meals on Wheels, and Grace United Methodist Church just to name a few. Barb is a true inspiration.

In our Couple category this year, who were indeed missing in action during our luncheon because you guessed it they were volunteering!!  Dedicated to serving our elderly ROSE award winners Thomas and Virginia McNutt skipped our event to help transport others for Friends in Action in DeWitt County. No worries though we were able to catch up with them and hand them their much deserved award later the next day. We hope they can join the fun at next year’s celebration.

Of course we also celebrate our volunteer stations and this year’s winner is certainly a worthy recipient.  The Economy Shop. This thrift shop is under the umbrella of Grace United Methodist Church for over forty years and is run entirely on volunteers. The Economy Shop is one of our longest serving stations as records show they have offered volunteer opportunities to RSVP volunteers for over 27 years!! This station uses profits from their thrift store to better our communities by supporting other local agencies such as MAX and Oasis Day Center for the homeless. A true collaboration within the community. 

Congratulations again to our ROSE Award winners Dick McQuality, Barb Higdon, Tom and Virginia McNutt, and the Economy shop for all that you do in our communities. You are shining examples of how we can all make our world a better place one hour at a time.  


Charlie Gillaspie, RSVP Director

Thursday, September 15, 2016

School is Back in Session


We are now  half way through September, which means school is back into full swing. Parents are rushing to get their kids ready and out the door each morning, school buses are busy running their routes, and teachers are caught up in the stress of planning lessons and adjusting to a new class full of students. In the midst of all this stress we cannot forget to slow down and observe our surroundings and for teachers observe the very students that fill their classrooms each day. Teachers are often the first to notice a change in a student who could be experiencing domestic violence in their homes. These students could suddenly become withdrawn or depressed; or they could go the complete opposite and start acting out or become aggressive with other students. Along with changes in behavior, you often may see the child victim’s grades drop, incomplete assignments, extreme tiredness, and even physical signs of abuse on the child’s body. 

A teacher who is suspicious that a student of theirs could be living in a dangerous home, often don’t know how to approach the situation or even what to say. This is where domestic violence programs like Dove, can help. Dove provides prevention programs such as BABES (Beginning Awareness Basic Education Studies), a program for Kindergarten through 3rd grade students, in which the trained volunteers use puppets to talk about difficult topics such as positive self-esteem, making good choices, drugs and alcohol, domestic abuse, inappropriate touching, and safe adults they can talk to if they ever feel in danger.  There is also the Teen Dating Violence Prevention Program that is for Junior High and High School level students which teaches them what a healthy relationship versus an unhealthy relationship looks like. It gives the students resources and the knowledge they need if they ever find themselves in a dangerous situation or even one of their friends who could be in a violent relationship or home.

All of our trained volunteers and presenters are always excited to work with teachers and school counselors to help coordinate efforts and resources if they ever find one of their students in trouble. Our teachers are wonderful individuals who teach our children and look after them every day of the school year. Your dedication and passion know no bounds and you know your students better than most people and spend a lot of time with them. If you are ever suspicious please talk to your school counselors and don’t be afraid to make a report. You could be the first person to recognize abuse and help that child seek counseling and help or even save their life. Thank you teachers for all that you do!!

Megan Neaville

DeWitt County Dove Outreach Specialist

Friday, September 9, 2016

40th Annual Appreciation Luncheon for RSVP!

As I prepare for the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) 40th Annual Appreciation Luncheon* scheduled for next week I am in awe of all that our RSVP volunteers have accomplished this last year in Macon and DeWitt Counties. I am excited to be celebrating 40 years with some amazing volunteers, staff, stations, and sponsors of our program.

This year the RSVP Advisory Council and staff have worked hard to make this year’s event special. Our guest speaker City of Decatur Mayor Julie Moore-Wolfe is just as excited to be sharing this mile stone with all of the volunteers. Dolci-Note’ will be on hand to share their wonderful talent and of course we have pie for all our guests after lunch.

It takes lots of hard work and preparation to make the RSVP Appreciation luncheon a success and year after year we have had some fantastic sponsors that support this event. Some of our repeat contributors are Kroger’s South Shores who donate the wonderful R.O.S.E. Award flowers so that each winner knows how very special they are. Grace United Methodist Church who have allowed us to use their dinner trays so that volunteers can safely get back to their tables from our buffet line. Our host sight Tabernacle Baptist Church who allow us to take over not only their gym but gives us full access to their wonderful kitchen, and always has an extra room or two when needed for our entertainers. Our monetary friends Jeanne Hansen and Mr. and Mrs. Dale Gillaspie. This year Mari Mann Herbs joined in the fun by allowing us to buy some wonderful spices at cost in order to drive home how our volunteers are truly the “spice” of life and our communities.

This year with some extra special friends that have help staff round up some AWESOME prizes for our volunteers from some great businesses in Macon and DeWitt Counties.   There is a movie basket that includes tickets to the Avon Theater, a readers dream basket with items from Novel Ideas New & Used Books and Gifts, Authors J. D. Webb and Millikin Professor Dr. Randy Brooks. A relaxing spa basket from Avon Representative Betty Clark that also includes manicure and pedicure certificates from Nails by Tina. A few really great craft items from Sheryl Whisman and Megan Neaville and that’s not all. Texas Roadhouse prepared two favorable baskets alongside Olive Garden’s basket. Coffee Corner (who makes a great cup of joe) sent over a goody basket too good to be true.  Cheddars and Buffalo Wild Wings sent over some certificates that will help a volunteer enjoy their business with smiles on their faces. Oh and did I mention some of these baskets are nestle in a wonderful Longaberger Basket courtesy of our very own Sheryl Whisman the DeWitt County Coordinator.  

Yes this year’s 40th Annual Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon for RSVP volunteers with the RSVP of Macon and DeWitt Counties are in for a great adventure this year. We can’t wait to celebrate with you all.

Charlie Gillaspie
RSVP Director

*Please note we are no longer taking reservations for this event.

Charlie Gillaspie and Sandra Harmison after the September 6th Decatur City Council Meeting
Declaring September to RSVP Month!

Friday, September 2, 2016

Letter from the Executive Director

In today’s world the news seems to have taken a turn for the violent and intolerant. Whether you’ve been personally touched by the tragedies overseas and at home or have only seen the news, we are all a part of this story and it is time to recognize our part.  Walking together in love through diversity of practice is one of the most challenging parts of having a mission.  As yet there it is, love our neighbors as we are loved.

In what ways are you challenging yourself today to be loving?  Are you listening with an open heart and mind?  Are you challenging your root biases and presuppositions?  Are you actively engaging in conversation about issues?

One of the least loving ways we can approach one another is by ignoring one another.  Study after study tells us that loneliness and isolation are two of the most common issues faced by all member of society.  We need communion, compassion and companionship to serve the mission well. 

Dove works to serve the mission well by upholding these shared values:

  • Dove cares about people, especially those who are powerless and hurt. Even when suffering is so great that caring is all we can do, still we stand ready to share the burden and to suffer.
  • We honor the dignity and worth of each individual. We encourage clients’ freedom to make responsible decisions, to determine their future based on informed options, thereby empowering themselves, becoming self-reliant and autonomous.
  • In all our dealings–with each other, with clients, with volunteers, with other agencies, with churches and the community–we strive to follow the highest standards of ethics and morality. An abiding sense of integrity and justice must underlie all we do.
    If you or your organization’s members are ready to share in Dove’s work, please reach out to our Volunteer & Community Relations Director, Barb Blakey.  Dove, Inc. is only as strong as its member organizations, volunteers and advocates.  It is my sincere hope that you will be a part of making our home a self-sustaining community free of human suffering.
    Christine Gregory, Executive Director

Friday, August 26, 2016

Back to School Lessons – Teen Relationships 101

Autumn is my favorite time of year, not because of colorful leaves and pumpkin-spice lattes (although they are pretty awesome), but because it’s back-to-school time!   During the school year, I provide teen dating violence education to teens in high schools, middle schools, colleges, youth-serving agencies, and church groups.  Within classroom and group settings, I teach learning activities and lead conversations about what makes a good dating relationship.   Working with teens is challenging, thought-provoking, often hilarious, sometimes heartbreaking, and never dull, but I love it because I get to make a difference in young people’s lives.

Freshman (or 7th grade) jitters should include the normal stuff - navigating a new school, remembering that locker combination, meeting new friends   – but not dealing with an abusive relationship!  However, the teen years are when most people experience their first serious relationships and, for 1.5 million high school students nationwide, those relationships include emotional and physical abuse.  College students also experience dating violence, with 43% of college women reporting violent and abusive dating partners.  College-level dating violence is also more likely to include digital dating abuse and college students often feel isolated from support systems that can protect against abusive partners.

Teen dating violence can be the gateway to lifelong abuse.  As they begin dating, teens learn about adult relationships.  If that first partner is abusive, a teen can learn the wrong messages about love.  The two most dangerous dating messages for teens are: 1) jealousy equals love, and 2) if my partner hits me (out of jealousy), he/she must really love me.  Abusers use these beliefs to perpetuate patterns of emotional, physical, and sexual violence towards their partners under the guise of love.  The end results are staggering.  The highest rates of intimate partner violence for women in the United States occur between the ages of 16-24, a rate of about one in three.  The severity of intimate partner violence is often greater when the abuse pattern begins in adolescence.  The cycle of abuse can put a teen at higher lifetime risk for substance abuse, eating disorders, risky sexual behaviors, STDs, teen pregnancy, suicide, and death (at the hands of the abuser).   

Abusers use a methodical process of jealousy, manipulation, and control to isolate their partners from support systems so that friends, family, and others are unaware of what is happening.  Most teens suffer in silence, with only 33% telling someone about the abuse.   Often, family and friends don’t recognize warning signs until the abuse becomes severe.  By this time, the teen may react to parental intervention with denial and resistance, even when they truly are terrified of the partner.   At the same time, the abuser may escalate the abuse and threats towards the teen and family as his/her control is challenged.  In many cases, abusive teen relationships end when parents seek an order of protection on behalf of their teen to stop the violence, threats, and stalking by the abuser.

In spite of the sobering statistics on teen dating violence, there is hope.  Prevention education works.  Although stereotyped as know-it-alls who are uninterested in any information from adults, teens do want respectful relationships and do listen when they are treated with respect.  Dove offers accurate information on healthy teen relationships vs. domestic violence in a fun, engaging, interactive, and non-judgmental way.   The purpose of Dove’s presentations is prevention - giving teens the information and tools to set boundaries with others, share mutually respectful relationships, plan for safety, and recognize and avoid abusive relationships.  For those teens already involved in abusive relationships, Dove offers counseling, personal advocacy, help with orders of protection, and parental support.    

Working with teens is so rewarding!  I love watching the learning process in the classroom as teens hear, debate, and absorb information on respectful relationships.  However, it’s after class when the hard work begins and teens reach out with their own private concerns:  a disclosure of pain inflicted by a verbally abusive girlfriend; a question about how to end a violent relationship with a long-term boyfriend; a group of teens expressing concern about a friend’s safety; or a teen disclosing abuse at home.  Each teen is seeking someone who believes them, validates their experiences and feelings, and supports that instinct that is telling them it’s time to get out.    Each receives support and services personalized to his or her situation.  The feedback I receive from parents and teens about Dove’s influence usually comes in the form of a story – a teen who broke off an abusive relationship; one who avoided dating an abuser by recognizing the warning signs; a group of friends who helped another friend get away from an abusive partner; a teen who finally broke free from an extremely controlling partner who is now reaching out to help other friends. 

Here are some warning signs to help family and friends recognize that a teen may be in an abusive relationship:

  • Afraid of partner’s temper
  • Afraid to break up because partner threatens to hurt self or others
  • Constantly apologizing for or defending partner’s behavior
  • Afraid to disagree with partner
  • Constantly monitored by partner (cell phone, digital monitoring/stalking)
  • Isolated from family and friends
  • Embarrassed in front of others because of partner’s words or actions
  • Intimidated by partner and coerced into having sex

An abusive partner often exhibits the following behaviors:

  • Explosive temper
  • Possessive or jealous of partner’s time, friends, and/or family
  • Constantly criticizes partner’s thoughts, feelings, or appearance
  • Pinches, slaps, grabs, shoves, or throws things at partner
  • Coerces or intimidates partner into having sex
  • Blames partner for his/her own anger and behaviors
  • Causes partner to be afraid
  • Uses tears and/or threats of suicide to manipulate any situation

Dove is available 24/7 to answer questions and work with teens and families dealing with abusive relationships.  Schools and youth leaders are invited to call to request presentations for their teens.  Dove can be reached at or at 217-423-2238. 

Another great resource for teens and parents to learn more about teen dating violence is Love Is Respect, the National Teen Dating Abuse Help Line (  The website offers an emergency hotline (1-866-331-9474) statistics, safety planning information, videos, quizzes, and parent information. 

Dating during the teen years sets the stage for an individual’s adult relationships.  Dove strives to teach teens skills for healthy relationships, but is there to help them if things go wrong.  Every teen (and adult) deserves a great relationship – and great relationships are all about respect.

Joyce Kirkland

Youth and Family Services Coordinator

Dove Domestic Violence Program

Friday, August 19, 2016

Yes, we're counting the days till Christmas!

It’s hard to believe, but as of this blog post, there are only 128 days until Christmas. Yes, you read that right. 128. The year has gone by very quickly and it’s approaching the time of year for the Christmas Baskets Program.


This year the preliminary work for the program began again in June, and already we’ve seen quite a few donations of things – from toiletries for hygiene bags, to toys for kids, to large donations of brand new books, to stockings and blankets and jewelry. 


We’ve also been busy recruiting new agencies to work with in order to help as many people as we can. This year I’m excited to announce we’ll be working with the Girl Scouts, Boys and Girls Club, the Cancer Care Center, the Special Olympics, and the YMCA. We’ll be providing these agencies with referrals for their clients and patients to receive baskets and we’re very excited to be doing so.


Each year we provide baskets to around 350 families in the area, and this doesn’t include the families who get adopted by individuals, families and groups. Each basket includes a full holiday meal for each family, hats and gloves for each adult and child in the household,  a stocking for everyone, and a toy/gift for each child.


There’s a lot of work to be done, and we can always use all the help we can get. There are also a lot of different ways that you or your family or friends or group can get involved from now until basket delivery day. If you’re interested in volunteering or donating to the Christmas Baskets Program, please contact Angie at 217-428-6616.

Angie Williams is a member of the Domestic Violence Staff and loves all things Christmas.  She heads up the Dove effort on our part of the Dove and Northeast Community Fund Annual Christmas Basket Drive.  Watch the website and our facebook page for other news on the Drive.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Insights on the New Job Training Program

My name is Addie Smith and I am the new employment and life skills specialist here at Dove, Inc. I work within the Homeward Bound Transitional Housing and Supportive Services program where I teach life skills and jobs club classes. I also co-supervise a Job Training Program that consists of four positions that are filled by clients in the Transitional Housing program. Two positions are janitorial based at our Homeward Bound Facility and the Domestic Violence Shelter. The other two positions are focused on lawn care and building maintenance and clients perform all the landscaping at our facility and the apartments we own.

Being fresh out of college, I experienced the struggles that life sometimes throws at you and trying to navigate solutions to those issues has helped me to teach my life skills classes as well as learn with the clients as I go.

I have been a worker all of my life since the ripe age of twelve years old, walking up and down corn fields picking those pesky tassels. From there I started working in a nursing home where I learned all about working with people along with how to behave in a professional environment. During my time at Millikin, I left the nursing home behind and began working at Millikin University’s career center where I learned a lot about networking, building resumes and crafting cover letters. I have been able to take my work experience paired with my knowledge from working in the career center and utilize it in my jobs club courses and the job training program.

With the job training program being new, it has been a wonderful experience being a part of something new and incorporating my ideas along with the ideas of others that I work with. The goal is for the clients who graduate the program to go on and get a job with another facility that is long term. I see this being a very positive experience for those clients who participate.