Monday, October 27, 2014

A View from the Beginning

Hi, my name is Patty Plato and my position at Dove, Inc. is the Domestic Violence Shelter Coordinator. I have been an employee since October 1985. I started out as a Vista volunteer and got a permanent position after nine months into my five year assignment. 

Working at Dove has opened my mind and heart. I went from being the Resource Specialist who coordinated volunteers and staff for shelter coverage and on-call, to the Shelter Coordinator in 1987 when the domestic violence program moved from a four unit apartment house to the ten bedrooms at the old St. James convent where I became in charge of non-direct services and oversaw the daily running of the building, as well as filling in where needed to assist co-workers. In 1985 rarely would we get a call from a male victim admitting to being abused.  Nowadays it is part of the norm.  The female victims long ago came to Dove with abuse being their primary issue. Housing and financial assistance was available. 

The clients coming to Dove now have problems with employment, housing, substance abuse, language barriers and mental health. The Domestic Violence program offers shelter; help with getting orders of protection, Healthy Families and Domestic Violence Education and Support Group. The staff advocates for clients making appropriate referrals to other agencies to coordinate the services to better help the clients. What a great team to work with. 

The need for volunteers is always on-going and the program offers two trainings a year. If someone reading this would like to return as a volunteer or to become a volunteer please contact Barb Blakey or myself, Monday through Friday 8-4p.

Patty Plato

Patty is the current employee who has been with Dove the longest. Patty, in the Dove shirt, seen here with longtime volunteer Sandy Stacey.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Bringing New Ideas back to the Neighborhoods

In September I attended my second Regional Neighborhood Network Conference. For those who are unfamiliar with it, the RNNC is a three day conference where community organizers, neighborhood group members, and many others attend workshops together and exchange ideas to bring back to our respective cities, neighborhoods, and communities.

This year, many individuals from Decatur attended the event, including myself and the director of Dove’s Community Services program, Francie Johnson. Seventeen neighborhood volunteers from seven local neighborhood groups joined us on our voyage to Richmond, Indiana. For those who’ve never been there, Richmond, Indiana, is a city of about 38,000 people. There are many successful individually owned businesses and individuals that rolled out the metaphorical red carpet for the 300 some attendees, offering discounted meals and welcoming us with signs and friendly smiles.
This year’s conference offered a wide variety of workshops for people to attend -- everything from the basics of organizing a neighborhood group to talking to your local politicians, to how some communities are using art as an agent of change, to literacy, health and wellness, and hunger issues facing our neighborhoods.

In addition to networking and sharing a wealth of information, each year there is a recipient of the Stella Stewart Award, which is an honor given to one who has gone well above and beyond in the neighborhood, proving themselves to be a true leader. There were only four nominees this year, and one was from Decatur. Though she didn’t win the overall regional title, she is still Decatur’s Stella Stewart Award winner. Her name is Consuelo Cruz, and she’s from the neighborhood group called Southside Improvement Association (SIA).

Because of her excellent work in her own neighborhood, as well as her collaboration with Decatur Public Schools and Richland Community College that resulted in a dual credit African American studies course, and also because of her creation of the successful “20 Women” program that pairs young women with successful professional women in a mentoring situation, she has more than earned the nomination from our city.

For those interested in attending the next Regional Neighborhood Networking Conference, you need to get involved in your neighborhood group! If one doesn’t exist where you live, we can help you get one started. Just give us a call at 428-6616 and ask for Francie or Angie.

Angie Williams

Friday, October 17, 2014

A Volunteer's View

After attending the Courtney Queeney lecture:

As a relatively long-time DOVE volunteer, I was going to write a blog from the angle of what touches me most about my experiences interacting with clients, and why I took that first step to take the training sessions and become active at the shelter.  The answer is simple - the children.  They are the most vulnerable, helpless, and potentially scarred for life due to circumstances they did not create, and are powerless to change.  The upcoming Candlelight service will highlight that in a very touching, poignant way.  However, after hearing Courtney speak, her words all too familiar (DV scenarios usually have strikingly similar patterns), I felt a need to expand on a point she made about what "the children" and budding young adults are (and are not) taught in school and society in general. 

Courtney rattled off a list of things, starting with Elementary school topics - fire drills, don't talk to strangers, etc., and later, on to "safe sex" and STD prevention, and many other things, but never any mention of domestic violence, its potential to affect anyone, its causes, warning signs, and ways to deal with unsafe partners and stalkers.  I have often thought about how valuable my current knowledge would have been "way back when" I was of dating age...those "bad-news boyfriends" who were oh, so romantic, exciting, and so "in love" with me!  I was  very lucky to have emerged intact, whereas so many young girls have not.  That (predominantly male) personality profile that is incredibly intense, obsessive, and eventually all-controlling of his victim, is  so romantic at first!  All those  fairy tales read to us in childhood, all those romantic movies and novels, seem to come to life! 

It reminded me of how quickly a casual dating relationship can turn into a stalking situation, too.  There are so many dangers that can't be avoided entirely, but some knowledge, or forewarning, of danger certainly is warranted.  That is why I am so very supportive of DOVE's efforts, both with the BABES program for the younger ages, and for the programs Joyce Kirkland presents to high schoolers about dating relationships.  Decatur is really doing something special!  And girls out there, please - stop looking for Prince Charming to take care of you!  There is only dependence at the other end, with someone else dictating the rules you must follow.  Grow up strong, and "carry your own weight!"  Even the healthiest of relationships are bound to have their difficult moments, and all long-term relationships require effort on the part of both parties.  Thank you, Courtney, for reminding us all that there is that strong element of caution we all must have when entering into an intimate relationship, and thank you DOVE for spreading the word, as well as helping  DV victims understand the dynamics of DV,  and start to rebuild their lives.

Judith Mancinelli

Shelter volunteer

Friday, October 10, 2014

It Is Your Business

If you are a sports fan, and especially a fan of the NFL, you probably knew before February 15, 2014, that Ray Rice was a running back for the Baltimore Ravens.  If you follow sports through various media outlets, you probably knew that on that date Ray Rice and his fiancĂ©e, Janay Palmer, were arrested for domestic battery at an Atlantic City, New Jersey casino.  Video surfaced of Rice dragging the mother of his child from an elevator; she was face down and obviously unconscious. Charges against Ms. Palmer were dropped.  Rice was indicted on felony domestic battery  charges by a grand jury on March 27.  He was subsequently offered a diversion program for first-time offenders which enabled him to attend counseling and avoid having the case on his record if he did not re-offend.   During this time, he was supported by his coach and team as a “fine young man who made a mistake”.  On March 28, one day after the grand jury indictment, Ray Rice and Janay Palmer were married.  Commissioner Roger Goodell, the allegedly brilliant attorney who is commissioner of the NFL handled the matter by interviewing Janay and Ray Rice about the incident together and evidently believing that in some fashion her being dragged unconscious from an elevator was her fault as she claimed.  Goodell announced in July that Ray Rice would be suspended for two games for this egregious conduct.  By this time, it became harder for anyone who is connected to any media outlets not to know who Ray Rice was.  There was an immediate and loud outcry from all aspects of society that this was a ridiculous punishment for the crime committed.  People, men and women alike, interpreted Goodell’s action, or inaction, as a lack of respect for domestic violence victims and women in general.  In late August, Goodell admitted he had mishandled the matter and strengthened the NFL policy against domestic violence offenders.   By September 8, 2014, it was almost impossible to be unaware of Ray Rice and this case.  Video was released from security cameras in the casino plainly showing the couple entering the elevator exchanging words.  Ray Rice spat on Janay twice; when she moved toward him he dropped her with one punch.  She hit her head on a railing on the way down and was knocked unconscious.  The subsequent outcry from the video created a massive media firestorm.   The story led national newscasts as well as sportscasts.  The Ravens immediately released “the fine young man” from his contract; the NFL suspended him indefinitely.  Officials claimed seeing the video “changed everything”, although it is not completely certain at this time if this truly was the first time these people actually saw the video.

On the heels of the Ray Rice case, came allegations of child abuse against the Minnesota Vikings running back, Adrian Peterson.  After three or four days of “No, he won’t play” and “Yes, he will play” the Vikings decided he would not play.  He was placed on a previously unknown “Commissioner’s List” and Vikings ownership looked completely incompetent.  Greg Hardy of the Carolina Panthers was convicted of domestic battery July 15 after a bench trial; he exercised his right to appeal the conviction.  A jury trial has been set for later this year.  The Panthers continued to allow him to play pending the new trial.  He also was placed on the Commissioner’s List in mid-September. Ray McDonald….Jonathan Dwyer…..all names becoming too familiar after DV arrests.   Dwyer has been put on the inactive list, but McDonald continues to play.  Soccer player Hope Solo also faces DV charges and continues to play.

If you are reading this article, and you have deduced that the NFL has a domestic violence problem, you are partly correct.  They certainly have a problem in the way they handle perpetrators of this crime.  They have minimized the situations for far too long.  They are being forced by the public outcry to strengthen their policies and the way they deal with offenders.  It remains to be seen how effective their changes will be.  The real truth of the matter is that society has a domestic violence problem. Every nine seconds, a woman is beaten.  An estimated one to four million people in America are physically abused by an intimate partner.  95% of these victims are women and children.  American companies spend an estimated $3 to $5 billion dollars per year on medical expenses related to domestic violence.  Domestic violence is blind to age, economic status, education level or social class.  It can and does happen everywhere.   It can happen just as easily to the judge’s wife as to the janitor’s.  In Illinois, 300,000 women are abused each year.  Domestic violence is the most common and least reported crime.  Domestic violence has no relationship to anger or the perpetrator’s losing control after being upset with the victim.  It is always about the abuser maintaining power and control over the victim. 

Domestic violence is not something that “happens in the home”; it is a crime just like bank robbery or burglary.  It is not a problem of the NFL, or any specific ethnic community, or the lower class, or any of those things.  It is a problem of our society, of our world, of our town, of our neighborhood.  It is not “their” problem……….it is your problem, it is my problem, it is our problem.  As we begin the month of October, Domestic Violence Awareness Month, let us all recognize that this crime is our business and do everything we can to eliminate it.  If you think something is happening in your neighborhood that is not right, make the call to law enforcement.  If someone comes to you for help, connect them with your local domestic violence program.  If you want education or information about DV, contact your local program; they will be happy to help you.   Do whatever you can each day to make domestic violence your business.

Susie Kensil
Shelby County Coordinator

Friday, October 3, 2014

Get Involved

In April of this year, Alison Elsea (Macon Co. Child Advocacy Ctr) wrote on Child Abuse Awareness month.  In light of the recent child abuse indictment against NFL player Adrian Peterson and the other domestic violence issues surrounding the NFL it has brought the problem more attention and discussion as we go into October for Domestic Violence Awareness month. 
I think most people do not give domestic violence much thought during their daily routines, but the media coverage of high profile athletes have made it impossible to ignore.   Among my own social circle I’ve heard people express outrage and sadness while feeling helpless.  But there is always something you can do.  If you are dissatisfied with the penalties imposed on the players by the NFL make your voice heard to the league.  You can make your voice heard to your representatives on the legislation covering abuse and vote accordingly.  And most importantly you can educate yourself on the signs of domestic violence and the impact that it has on your community and nation.   Directly, or indirectly, domestic violence touches us all and it thrives when we are silent.  The National Network to End Domestic Violence has listed on their website 31 things we can do each day in the month of October to raise awareness and join the efforts to end the violence.   (

 Lorie Zeck, Domestic Violence Volunteer

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