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Friday, July 25, 2014

Close look at the Neighborhoods

As Dove reaches its 44th  anniversary this year, I’m approaching my ten year anniversary with the agency. I began working in the domestic violence program in August of 2004, as the administrative specialist. I was fresh out of college, and eager to work at a place that had such a good reputation for helping people. It’s not a choice I’ve ever regretted making. Last October I resigned from my position in the domestic violence program in order to take a full time position with Dove’s Community Services Program.

I’d heard things about what the community services program did for years at staff meetings, and helped out with the Christmas Baskets program in December each year since I began working here, but as I imagine is true with any new job, I had no clue the scope of the work that was done until I got started. Since starting my position as Community Organizer, I have seen firsthand the amount of work that goes into organizing and maintaining a neighborhood group. I’ve also become a firm believer in the importance of having one available. Neighborhood groups are beneficial in many ways. Members who are involved help look out for one another, and for the other people in their neighborhoods as well, which is important for safety reasons. It makes people more aware of the issues and also the positive things in their community. Neighborhoods help keep members in touch with key people such as police officers, firefighters, paramedics, local politicians, and others who are a wealth of helpful knowledge and information. There’s also a social aspect to neighborhood groups. Keeping in regular touch with your neighbors helps foster a sense of safety, health, and community.

I haven’t been in this position for quite a year yet, but I’ve learned so much about organizations such as CONO (Coalition of Neighborhood Organizations), DAPB (Decatur Area Project Board), and met so many wonderful, dedicated people from both groups, and from all of the neighborhoods that we work with. I have a lot to learn still, and I’m so excited to be a part of it all.

If you’re interested in learning about neighborhood groups, whether it’s finding out if there’s one in your neighborhood, or if you’re wanting to get one started, please give us a call. We’re here to help.

Angie Williams

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

MAX AND THE FACE OF THE POOR

When many of us hear the word “poor”, negative images come to our minds.  We think of the aggressive panhandler that interrupted or scared us.  We think of the stereotypical addict and the criminal.  While those persons have their own desperate needs, they are only a small percentage of the persons who come to the MAX program each day for assistance.  Most of the faces who come in are pleasant, caring and appreciative.  They are often the strong women who are taking care of the children and grandchildren of others.  They are the responsible men who are trying to handle things well in difficult times.  As I pass them by in the hallway, they often greet me warmly and ask how I am.  After they talk with the volunteers and Shane Hartman, they often they leave with a thank you and a relief that they will be able to obtain the medicine or other help they need for themselves or for others.  I often wonder if I would be so pleasant if I had been born in their life situations or carried the loads they carry.   I wonder if I could be gracious while humbling myself to ask for help.   I thank God that the MAX program makes it easy for me to help others.   I thank God that DOVE and  the MAX program is there for those good people.  
Kent King-Nobles, First United Methodist Church

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

What if?

Well, the excitement was building…a little nervous but mostly excited!  I got a new job as Shelter Specialist at Dove Domestic Violence!  I was so excited!! It sounded like something I had always wanted to do!  My first day of work was supposed to have been January 6th, 2014, but it ended up being a snow day.  So, the excitement and nervousness would be put off for another day.  I was pretty nervous not having worked full time for about five plus years, but knew this was going to be something special!  I was ready for a challenge, and a challenge, indeed, it was! 

Let’s fast forward to today, July 22nd,  2014, and see if I’m still that nervous and excited!  Nervous…no, thank goodness!  Excited…yes!  Going back to work full time at the age of 58 was a little scary, to say the least.  Of course, all of the questions flooded my mind, “What if I can’t catch on?”  “What if I’m too old?”  “What if I can’t remember anything?” “What if….what if…what if?”   Finally, I asked myself, “What if I can do it?”  “What if I love it?”  “What if I can remember?”  “What if it all works out?”  Six months later and I absolutely love my job!  It is everything I dreamed of and more!  I work with a great group of women that are so compassionate and knowledgeable and I admire each of them!  The women and children that come into the shelter have blessed me in so many ways.  I tell them they are some of the strongest women I have ever met!  Some of them come in so downtrodden with just a little spark of light left and by the time they leave here I see their confidence, determination and desire to keep on going  growing stronger each and every day.  I am humbled and blessed to be a small part of such an amazing organization which truly loves and cares for those who are powerless and hurt.  “What if I help one woman gain her confidence?”  “What if I comfort a child who is afraid and scared?”  “What if I listen to a woman express her fears while her tears are flowing?”  “What if” can be discouraging or encouraging, a stumbling block or a stepping stone.  Depending on the words following “What if” you and I can make a difference to a woman struggling to find shelter, hope and peace.  What if you decided to accept the challenge to volunteer in one of the many positions available at Dove that need someone just like YOU?!?  And, what if you, like myself, truly end up enjoying it?

                                                        Cheryl Carpenter

Friday, July 18, 2014

It started with VISTA

Not long ago on a hot and wringingly humid Saturday afternoon, I was outside, door-knocking for a political party (I’ve leave you to guess which one). Ambling down a shady sidewalk on South Illinois Street, I greeted a couple lounging on their front porch. The woman called out, “Fred? Is that you?”

I recognized the voice immediately as that of Earlestine Dandy. I hurried up the steps and we hugged. Later, we sat on lawn chairs and reminisced of the days when she was a VISTA Volunteer. Back in the 1970s Earlestine was a low-income mother eking out a meager existence. But she is as responsible as anyone for the creation of the Community Health Improvement Center (CHIC).

One key piece of Dove’s past is the organization’s fling with the VISTA Volunteer program. Forty years ago, I was at the center of it.

In 1974, the Torrence Park Citizens Committee, a neighborhood group that employed me as its community organizer, was going out of business. The TPCC (as it was known) had developed a VISTA project. VISTA is a federal program; the acronym stands for “Volunteers in Service to America.”

As it met its self-imposed demise, the TPCC willed its VISTA project to Dove. The plan was for me to come to Dove as part of the package to manage the VISTA Volunteers’ work. However, Dove’s board wasn’t sure it wanted this bequest. Dove had up to that point survived on donations from churches and individuals, and its board was not at all excited about accepting its first piece of government support.

One late summer evening, the board sat at a table in the organization’s decrepit bungalow at 1112 East Locust Street. As the director – and only paid staff – Ray Batman recommended that the board accept the VISTA project. I sat nervously; this was my first Dove meeting, and my only future job prospect was on the line.

After a long and heated discussion the board voted (not unanimously) to take on the project. This decision led in future years to Dove undertaking such other grant-funded programs as RSVP, Domestic Violence, and Community Services. But at that time, it led only to Dove taking over the management of VISTA Volunteers.

For the next three years, my one and only job was to coordinate and oversee the work of VISTA Volunteers from a dingy and smoky office in the southeast corner of the Dove House basement. Gotta say, I enjoyed that job as much as any I’ve had before or since.

The project Dove inherited and later managed was a great one. We used a mix of local Decatur people and “national VISTAs,” who were mostly recent college graduates. At times we had as many as a score of VISTAs in town. Each one worked for a year or more and received a modest living allowance. Their dedicated work led to the creation of CHIC, legal assistance services, credit counseling, a nonprofit housing corporation, and numerous youth programs.

To form CHIC, VISTA Earlestine worked with Ray and me, and with another local VISTA, Shirley White, who is now Shirley Paceley, the internationally-known director of Blue Tower Training, based in Decatur. Other Decatur-grown VISTAs who left their mark on our community include my wonderful ex-sister-in-law Anita Buckner, recently retired from a long career in youth development, and former Macon County Presiding Judge Ted Paine.

A few national VISTAs remained in Decatur. Lawyer Russel Hoerbert directed the Decatur office of the Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation until his death in 1998. As a VISTA, Russ’ wife Jan (nee Howard) started the Dove Youth Program, which later evolved into the Community Services Program; she now works in the Legal Department for the City of Decatur. Retired attorney Jessica Stricklin Disbrow is a respected and talented regional artist. Tom Malenshek served as a VISTA Housing Specialist and later worked for the City as a Plan Inspector.

Sadly, I’ve since lost track of all of the national VISTAs except for two. Patrick Curley is Chief of Staff for Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, and Jean Johnson is a Presbyterian minister in rural Montana.

These are a few of the many lives touched positively by Dove over its nearly 45 years of existence.
 Fred Spannaus


Thursday, July 17, 2014

New Me New Life

Each summer, we start preparations for our Annual Report.  It contains pie charts with numbers, listing of donors and tons and tons of information about Dove.  It also contains comments from clients and volunteers.  Clients are asked the question:  "What has this help meant to your or your family?  and then it asks which program or their location and the date, no names of course.  Below is just one from someone who stayed at the Domestic Violence Shelter.

"Beginning a new life, taking care of a lot of issues I have, that I’ve never dealt with before.  New Me New Life!"

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

90's Brought New Programs

•  In 1990, a satellite office, to better serve the needs of the women with domestic violence issues, was opened in DeWitt County.  The program grew from a one-room shared facility to opening their own offices which additionally houses the BABES program, RSVP, Friends in Action,  a food pantry, and DAX.

•  In 1991 the adjacent structure to the current shelter, 800 E. Clay was purchased for additional administrative offices.  This allowed more space for clients at the shelter.

•  In 1994, Dove spearheaded an inter-agency coalition to combat homelessness.  The program was named Homeward Bound was located at 903 W. Decatur, a property donated by Decatur Community Church.  Homeward Bound is now in the former shelter at 788 E. Clay.  Homeward Bound offices are in the front and SRO occupies the back.   Dove Preschool closed; resources redirected into fighting prejudices.

•  In 1996, three adjacent lots on East Clay  were purchased, 824 site was remodeled and  was used by BABES and Community Services.  A fire in the summer of 2003 caused damage to the site and it was later torn down.

•  During 1997, Ray Batman was appointed Executive Director for the second time in Dove’s history.  New positions were created and staffed by promoting employees.  Ray retired in 2011 and Jim Walters is serving as Executive Director.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Looking at Dove in the '80s


As Dove marked its tenth anniversary in 1980, staff and volunteers began their response to battered women.  Beginning with a hotline, the program grew to include support groups, advocacy and emergency shelter.

In the ‘80's RSVP grew rapidly and initiated the aluminum can recycling center, now called the Community Recycling Center, which is still a fund raiser for Dove.

Volunteers at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church opened our Clothing Room to serve children.  Now the Prairie Avenue Christian houses the Children’s Clothing Room.

‘84-85 two projects were added to Dove.  BABES- Beginning Awareness Basic Educations Studies) brought a message of good self image and making good choices to K-3rd grade classrooms.   MAX- Macon County Assistance eXchange, a church-based financial assistance network to screen and fill requests for emergency help started and has been hosted at First United Methodist Church.

By 1987, Dove’s need for physical facilities was painfully evident.  The Domestic Violence Program was inadequately housed.  More than $300,000 was raised for purchase and renovation of the St. James Convent at 788 E. Clay.  The facility was ideal for the shelter and for housing other Dove programs.  The Homeward Bound offices and SRO’s is at 788 E. Clay.  The Domestic Violence Program, BABES, RSVP and Community Services/Decatur Area Project is now located at 302 S. Union.

In 1988, the Community Service Program was reorganized to its present form - working with youth, working with neighborhood groups and helping to organize neighborhoods.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Dove’s History, The Beginning

• On July 7, 1970, Dove opened its first office with Ray Batman serving as coordinator with support of seven Christian Churches. The objectives were serving the poor and assisting church volunteers in education and training for service.

• In 1972, Dove went ecumenical as other congregations joined. The organization incorporated and became tax-exempt. Dove purchased a run-down empty house at 1112 E. Locust and after some volunteer driven renovations, it remained the office for 15 years.

• Mother-to-Mother, a now national program, was started by one of the first volunteers, Sue Simcox. Other activities were the preschool, cooking classes and helping to form CHIC (Community Health Improvement Center).

• In 1975, Dove assumed sponsorship of the VISTA project. The RSVP (Retired & Senior Volunteer Program) was initiated. Two additional staff members joined Ray, Fred Spannaus as a VISTA volunteer and Sue Simcox, a founder and volunteer became the Program Director.


A few listings from our "history page" on the '70s. 


Happy Anniversary Dove!


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Family of Dove


In recognition of Dove's 44th Anniversary (7/71970), we will be posting more often and with a few guests authors.  Staff member Teri shares with us on this first day. 



As I look over the almost 24 years that I’ve been at Dove, I feel so blessed.  When I think all the way back to the first month I worked here, I learned early on just how special the Dove Family really is.  I had only been employed for about a month when I returned to work from lunch on November 1st, 1990 to see an emergency phone message for me to call Decatur Memorial Hospital Emergency Room *(of course, this was before cell phones – which is why I didn’t receive the message until I returned to Dove)  I quickly learned that my only 4 ½ old baby nephew had died!!  We learned it was probably SIDS that took his life so early from us.  The support I received from everyone was unbelievable – so many staff who I barely knew since I had only been employed for such a short time.

 

Unfortunately, I’ve experienced several losses throughout my years of employment.  In 2003, I lost my dear Mom, after learning she was diagnosed with cancer and then died only 3 weeks later.  She had been so healthy except for what she thought was a cold.  She even walked every day at the mall.  My Mom was only 75.  If that wasn’t enough, the day after we buried my Mom, my youngest sister, Sheila, died!  This was almost too much to handle – but God tells us that He never gives us more than we can handle.  My sister had been struggling with cancer for 4 long years and we believe that when Mom died, she just got tired and gave up.  So – having to bury both my Mom and my sister all within one week, was nearly unbearable.   But once again – the love and genuine compassion of all the Dove staff is what helped get me through.  My dad, sister and my brother and I were overwhelmed with the outpouring of love and support to our family during this most difficult time!!  Once again, I was shown just how blessed I am to work for an agency who truly understands and cares about their own employees!

 

Once again, in March, 2010, I experienced yet another significant loss.  My best friend and husband, Bill, of nearly 25 years, joined my little nephew, his Mommy (my youngest sister) and my Mom in Heaven.  Bill was a friend to many here at Dove.  He enjoyed helping out by utilizing his carpenter skills, or in any other way, whenever he was needed.  He had such a great sense of humor and looked forward to stopping in and visiting from time to time with different staff members.  At this most difficult time for me, in losing my Bill, I honestly don’t know what I’d have done without my Dove Family.  They were there for me from beginning to end – in any way possible for me. 

 

Although my contribution here is rather sad – it also is one of joy.  I’m so grateful and happy to work for an agency who absolutely demonstrates it’s Mission and it’s 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.”   Thank you, Dove Family, for standing by me through some of my most difficult times as you shared with me in each of my burdens.  I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

 

Teri Ducy, Director

Dove Domestic Violence Program