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.