Friday, December 2, 2016

Our 2016 Holiday Poem

The holiday season

Comes just once a year,

Bringing in family

From far and from near.

So we cook and we clean

‘til we think we may drop,

An the we clean more,

Could it be we can’t stop?

Then right in the middle

Of all we must do,

We stop! And we gather

With friends, old and new.

For today is the day

To pretend it’s all done,

And to sit back and relax

and just have some fun.

This day is the day

We will celebrate you.

It’s our way to say thanks

for all that you do.

So fill up your plate
With a lot of good food.

Then pull up a seat

And let us set the mood.

Some things we will do

You may have done before,

But rest assured there

are a few surprises in store.

We shall start with a speaker

Ans some music sublime

Play a few games

And just have a good time.

And our wish is that by

Time we are through,

you will know we are thankful

for each one of you!

Thank you so much for another wonderful year of service!

Poem by

Sheryl Whisman

DeWitt County RSVP Coordinator

Check our facebook page for more photos of the fun day!

Friday, November 11, 2016

Christmas Baskets - Then and Now

"Dove's Christmas Drive is underway!  We ask your help in making the 1986 Holiday Season a Happy one in homes throughout Decatur and Macon County.  As in the past Dove will be conducting Food and Toy Drive during this Christmas Season..."  November 1986 DoveTales Newsletter

"DOVE will work again this year with the Prince of Peace program from St. John's Lutheran Church to provide Christmas baskets for people that we work with during the year.  If your family, Sunday School class or group would like to provide a basket or donate money for the project, please call..."  December 1972 DoveTales Newsletter

"DOVE is participating with the Decatur-Macon County Opportunities Corporation, DARE and St. John's Northeast Center to provide Christmas baskets to low-income families in Decatur.  If you would like to contribute either food or money, please call the DOVE house, 428-6616.  Someone could use your caring." December 1975 DoveTales Newsletter

"... At this time of the year we turn our thoughts to the needs of our community.  Again this Holiday Season, Dove will provide food, toys and gift to hundreds of low-income homes in Decatur and Macon County.  ... All of us at Dove deeply value your friendship and your continued partnership in our exciting ministry.  Please accept our wishes for a meaningful Christmas Season!"  DoveTales Newsletter, December 1983

"Christmas Corner
There are still plenty of time and ways to get involved with Dove and North East Community Fund’s Christmas Baskets Program.

 Consider donating items or money. We are still in great need of the following: full sized bottles of shampoo, conditioner, body wash, toothpaste, and toothbrushes, as well as boxes of gallon sized Ziploc bags in order to make the hygiene bags for families receiving baskets.
Are you interested in adopting a family for Christmas? This is such an awesome opportunity for those who choose it. You get to be in touch with the family you’re adopting, to find out who they are and what kinds of things they’re in need of. You get to deliver their Christmas right to them yourself. Each year I look forward to adopting families out, and each year we have at least one or two people or groups who enjoy this option so much, they return and do it again the next year.
We do ask that you give at least the equivalent of what we give in baskets – the food, plus a gift for each child, and hats and gloves and a stocking for each member of the family. Anything more than that is definitely appreciated. Is this something that you, your family, or a group you’re involved with is interested in?
We’re also in need of volunteers the week of baskets. We will move everything to First United Methodist (201 W. North St) on the morning of December 15th and will be there from about 8:30 am to 5:30 p.m. that day, the next, and this year we’re going to have Saturday the 17th for families and students to come volunteer if they’d like. We’ll be filling baskets Monday and Tuesday, the 19th and 20th during those same times.

 We’ll need a lot of help with delivering baskets to people on the morning of Thursday, December 22nd, if that’s something you’d like to try, or if it’s something you’ve done before and have enjoyed in the past.  If you have a truck, please bring it – some of these baskets are large!

If none of these are things that work for you or your schedule, consider attending Making Christmas Bright, a fundraiser we’re partnering with Pizza Hut for on December 6th. If you bring a copy of our flier, or if you show a copy of it on your phone, Dove’s Christmas Baskets will get a portion of each order that day. You don’t even have to go to a specific Pizza Hut. If you give our voucher or online code (DOVE), you can go to any Pizza Hut in the United States and you will be supporting us.

The Pizza Hut at 975 W. Eldorado will also be collecting toys for the kids that night from 5-8. Bring your kids and enjoy a fun night out while helping support kids who are less fortunate.  A very special guest will be in attendance and he’s going to be making his own lists and checking them twice!  (flyer available on website

The next few weeks are going to be a flurry of activity, and I hope to talk to you about how you can get involved and help out. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me at 217-428-6616.

Angie Williams
Christmas Baskets Coordinator"
DoveTales Newsletter, November 2016


Friday, October 28, 2016

Making Christmas Bright

It’s hard to believe, and some of my co-workers will want to throttle me for saying this, but there are only 58 days left until Christmas. I know, I know. It’s not even Halloween yet and I keep bringing up Christmas. Yes, I’m one of THOSE people. Ask anyone who knows me at all and they’ll probably say something about what a Christmas crazed person I am (hi, Susie and Charlie!). They’re not wrong. I love basically everything about Christmas. The decorations, the baked goods, shopping for gifts for people, the music, sending out Christmas cards. Yes, I even love cold weather and snow.  I blame my grandma, who loves Christmas about as much as it’s possible to love a holiday.


Of course when I was younger, Christmas was all about the latest toy or book I wanted, if my cousins got more stuff than I did from “Santa,” the various Christmas parties with family and at school. It wasn’t until I started getting a bit older that it became more than a time when I got gifts and we looked at pretty lights.


The last few years whenever someone’s asked me what I want for Christmas, I struggle to give them ideas because the truth is, I don’t want for much of anything. If there’s something I need or want, I usually buy it myself when I can afford it. Nothing feels pressing in that aspect of my life anymore, and I’m beyond grateful for that.


I think working at Dove, Inc., for the last twelve years has made me reevaluate what’s important in life, and recognize the difference between want and need. I’ve grown as a person (again, ask nearly anyone who’s known me since I started at this agency in 2004), but my love of Christmas still remains, albeit in a very different form from my childhood and even early adulthood. Instead of feeling excited about what “Santa” may be bringing me for Christmas, I get excited about how I can help bring Christmas to as many others as possible.


I do this through the Christmas Baskets Program. If you’re not familiar with how the program works, the basics are this: we work with approximately 20 other agencies and groups who refer anywhere from one to fifteen families they work with to receive a food and gift basket. We partner with North East Community Fund for this huge project, and together we do anywhere from 320 to 350 complete Christmas baskets for families in Decatur. We compare our lists against Salvation Army’s, and St. James Church’s and any others we can compare them to, to make sure no one is being “double-served” so that more families who need it can receive assistance. It’s a lengthy process that we usually begin in October and that doesn’t end until every basket has found its home.


For most of my years at Dove, Francie Johnson ran the Christmas Baskets Program through the Community Services Program. As you may know, due to the state budget, that program was cut in 2015, which means that Francie was no longer with our agency, much to our devastation. I worked in domestic violence from 2004 – 2013, then transferred to Community Services from 2013 until I was laid off due to said budget cuts. Thankfully for me there was an opening back in domestic violence and I was able to stay with Dove (because honestly, I never want to go anywhere else, and can’t imagine having to do so). I was asked by Dove’s Leadership Team to handle the Christmas Baskets Program last year, and I agreed immediately because it’s near and dear to my heart.


It’s a lot of work – literally making lists and checking them twice and three times – and fortunately everyone at Dove, as well as countless numbers of volunteers, takes part in helping to make it a success. Whether it’s helping carry donations to and from storage areas, talking to their friends and family who decide to take up a collection of items for the drive or organize a fundraiser, sorting and counting donations, shopping for hats, gloves, and toys, making stockings – everything that anyone does, no matter how small they think their contribution is – makes a difference. Last year we served 335 families (1296 individuals) with Christmas baskets. One hundred and twenty-five volunteers participated, spending nearly 500 hours in one week’s time putting things together for each family.


The generosity of people in Central Illinois continually amazes me. Whether it’s monetary giving to the program, or buying toys, or hats and gloves, or their time; the fact that we can put together a complete Christmas basket for that many families in such a short time period is nothing short of miraculous. And isn’t Christmas the season of miracles?


If you’ve never been a part of this process, I so encourage you to come out this year to the basement of First United Methodist between December 15th and December 22nd and see what we’re doing. As much as I’ve always loved Christmas, I’ve come to realize that being able to actually help so many families is where the true sense of joy and accomplishment comes from. It is giving, not receiving, that makes Christmas bright.



Angela Williams

Administrative Specialist/Christmas Baskets Coordinator

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

What is acceptable?

In October, the winds of change blow as summer gives way to fall.  Trees change colors as the browns and oranges of fall replace the lush green of summer.  October also brings the color purple, as the nation remembers victims and survivors during Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

For too many years, people made jokes about domestic violence.  They too often laughed at the victim and empowered the abuser by just going along with what he or she did.  Even if they heard or saw violence happening in their neighborhoods they “didn’t want to be involved”.   For far too long it was believed that what happened in the home needed to stay in the home.  Victims and children who lived in homes where violence occurred were told not to talk about it for fear of “what the neighbors would think.”  Many times some of the people who acted in this way were the officials who were supposed to support the victim and stop the violence and hold the perpetrator accountable.  They were supposed to treat the abuse for what it is………..a crime.  A crime against the victim and a crime against the state.  This behavior is unacceptable.

What is acceptable?  If we could imagine utopia, what would it look like?  Obviously, in a perfect world, all of us would live in harmony, each accepting and celebrating the unique differences between people……their religions, lifestyles, and culture.  There would be no violence, including domestic violence.  Anyone who watches TV news or accesses social media knows we are nowhere close to that in today’s society.  This year, with violence in our cities and towns, with hatred spewed daily in our political races, is far from our imagined utopia.  Indeed, with the media and various social media sites immersing us in vitriol and hate daily, it is almost possible to imagine how a victim of domestic violence feels.

But what can we do to change attitudes and to bring about positive changes?  We can take a vow to stand together against domestic violence.  By standing together, we can be sure that victims of domestic violence know that they are believed, that they are validated, and that they are supported.  By standing together, we can be sure that abusers are arrested, prosecuted, and that they understand that their actions are wrong and not acceptable to society.  By standing together, we can support each other as we work to end domestic violence and to ensure that families can live in homes that are safe and secure.  I urge all of you to take a stand against domestic violence, to vow to do something new and different to bring us a little closer to a peaceful world.

Spread kindness and peace instead of vitriol and hate.  Be the change you want to see.


Susie KensilShelby County CoordinatorDomestic Violence Program

Friday, October 7, 2016

25th Annual Coats for Kids

Just the facts!
The 2016 Coats for Kids drive will begin October 12.  We will be collecting good, used coats for families in need through November 30.  And of course, we'll accept new coats for kids!
It's simple, look in your closets for coats you no longer need -- (all sizes accepted, it's a coat drive focusing on kids, but we are happy to help out adults too).  Take them to one of the places listed below and  place in the collection barrel.  We'll take it from there!
Participating Cleaners will make sure the coats are clean and fresh and ready for the clothing rooms to distribute. (All addresses Decatur unless noted otherwise.) 

WAND is and has been the cosponsor for the event all 25 year!  Thanks for that support!
Below is a confirmed participation list as of today:
Participating Cleaners
Classic Cleaner, 2474 N. Main

Corner Cleaning Connections, 1154 E. Prairie Ave.

Peerless Cleaners, 519 N. Monroe

Pride Cleaners and Launderers
  2553 N. Main
     1804 E. Eldorado
        912 W. Eldorado
          2056 Mt. Zion Road

 Waite's Dry Cleaners and Launderers
  1004 S. Main, Decatur
      664 W. Eldorado
         115 Magnolia, Forsyth

Drop off sites will have collection barrels to drop off your coats:

 Archer's Alley, 1331 N. 22 Street
  2990 N. Monroe
      570 N. Fairview
         1595 E. Cantrell Rd
Decatur Public Library, 130 N. Franklin
Decatur Public Transit Building
   and administration building E. Wood and MLK
Decatur Township Offices, 1620 S. Taylorville Road
GT Church, 500 S. 27th Decatur
Jerger Pediatric Dentistry, P.C., 2101 N. Main, Decatur
  Brettwood Plaza
     South Shores Plaza
       Fairview Plaza
          Airport Plaza
Land of Lincoln Credit Union
  2890 N. Oakland
     3130 E. Mound
       4850 E Prosperity Place
Longcreek Township, 2610 Salem School Road
   2340 Mt. Zion Rd.
      350 N. Water
         1355 W. King
            333 E. Pershing Rd
Richland Community College, #1 College Park, Decatur
Soy Capital Bank and Trust
   560 E. Pershing
      455 N. Main
         4825 US Route 36
             1685 S. Franklin
St. Teresa High School, 2710 N. Water Street
Texas Roadhouse, US 51 North
    If you donate your coat at Texas Roadhouse, you'll get a free appetizer

We'll post a list of the participating clothing rooms, after we start delivering the clean coats.
Thanks in advance!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

For those of us who work with domestic violence victims, we understand the dynamics that surround this unforgiveable crime. For victims - it is a personal violation to their person that will affect them for the rest of their lives. 
One of the most difficult and frustrating matters is the lack of education that so many have about domestic violence which causes them to re-victimize the victim. Victims are constantly blamed for the abuse and judged by those who have absolutely no understanding of the causes and effects of domestic violence.
How many of you have asked the most unacceptable question of "Why don=t they just leave?"  or voiced the statement "They must like it or they would leave." Sadly, it has nothing to do with either of these!! Instead, one should wonder or ask "What are the barriers that are keeping the victim there?"  and "How can we best assist the victim and let them know this abuse is not their fault and there are options they can choose to help remove them from their dangerous situation?"

Domestic violence is a crime that in not only committed in the United States, but worldwide. It happens every day, every hour, every minute and every second. In fact, every 9 seconds in the U.S., a victim is being assaulted or beaten. Anyone can be the victim or the abuser. It affects all of us - our neighbors, family members, co-workers, friends, and even those sitting in front or beside you in Church each Sunday. It occurs in dating relationships, marriages, with family members, those one has lived with, shared a child with, or even in caretaker situations. Many people blame domestic violence on substance abuse. Although substance abuse can often play a big part and intensify the abuse, it does not cause it. All abuse is caused by one thing - POWER AND CONTROL - and the abuser goes to any degree to use it to get what she or he wants. 

This intolerable crime leaves everlasting scars of pain and fear for the victim, as well as their children. Domestic violence dates back to even the 17th and 18th centuries. Generations are affected by its affliction. Sadly, each day these crimes are being unreported and often swept under the rug or some people still have the mindset that it=s not their business to get involved. 

As we come upon this month of October, recognized nationally as Domestic Violence Awareness Month, let=s make a determined effort to search our own personal minds and hearts and decide what we, as individuals, and as a community, can do to help end this unjustifiable, deplorable crime!! As a couple suggestions - donate to our program by simply going to our website at, volunteer for our program, become a member of our Committee Against Domestic Violence. Pay attention who you vote for and learn who supports the rights of domestic violence victims and whose primary purpose is to hold abusers accountable and protect all victims of domestic violence and their children! 

And lastly, help us fill every pew and plan to attend our annual Candle lighting Ceremony on Thursday, October 13th, 7:00 p.m., at St. James Catholic Church, 742 E. Clay. This is a very powerful event where we mourn for and with those who have suffered and died at the hands of domestic violence, and celebrate the survivors and those who work tirelessly day after day to help put an end to this crime.

Teri Ducy, Domestic Violence Program Director

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, 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.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Letter From Dove's July Newsletter

This month has an air of celebration about it.  Celebrating our nation’s independence, celebrating 46 years of Dove’s work in central Illinois, and having - after a year-long stalemate - a partial state budget.  Indeed, we have plenty to celebrate.

I’ve gotten a lot of questions about the state budget since its passage Thursday, most of which I cannot answer. The state budget is both a saving grace and a daunting challenge to our future. So when I am asked these questions, my mind draws from the text of The Gospel According to Mark 12:13-17. 

In today’s Illinois there is a role for both government and God to play in how we focus our efforts to relieve human suffering.  Our mission at Dove has become a work of God largely paid for by Caesar (or in this case the US and Illinois governing bodies, and ultimately the taxpayers). The challenge of being a faith-based organization in this circumstance, is making sure that we continue to focus on our mission and steady ourselves for the budgetary ebbs and flows which surround us. 

One way to do this is to create pathways by which we are assured that we can continue the mission, even after the stop-gap budget expires in just 6 short months.  I have been reaching out to local congregations, churches, organizations, and groups to share the message that caring about this people of this area is our job, and our responsibility.  We need to coordinate, collaborate, and pool resources. We need to focus on local and private support.

If you or your organization’s members are ready, 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 of Dove

Friday, July 29, 2016

It Is A Pattern

Domestic Violence is a pattern of behavior which is designed to keep the victim, or victims, of the abuser under the power and control of the abuser.    The word pattern is a crucial word in the definition.  The word pattern indicates that this is a long-term problem, not an isolated incidence of anger which erupts in a verbal or even physical altercation.  The words power and control indicate that during this long-term process, the victim is robbed of his or her ability to make their own decisions and choices and to control the direction of their lives.  Children ask their parents for permission to do thing; adults should not require “permission” to make phone calls, go to the store, etc.  This is the norm in most domestic violence relationships, however.  Permission must be requested and for the most part it is never granted.   Victims who have lived this way for a long time have no idea how to make choices or decisions, let alone good ones.  Their self-esteem is shattered; they have been told for so long that they are incapable of doing anything right that they are often afraid to make even the simplest decisions.  Most often, they have been completely isolated from any sort of a support system, family, friends, or otherwise.  All of these factors combine to make it very difficult for a victim to make a decision to leave the relationship, let alone make the choices necessary to carry out such a plan.

This is the state that many victims are in when they first make contact with our program.  Perhaps a friend or family member was able to convince them that they needed assistance to leave the nightmare that has been their existence.  More likely, however, is that there has been an unfortunate incident and/or some contact with law enforcement or the judicial system.   At this point, there are many decisions that need to be made by the victim to insure the safety and well-being of their family and for them.  Imagine coming to this point in your life, with absolutely no decision making skills.  This is where our advocacy is so important.  Many times, our clients when they first present to us, have no idea they are victims of domestic abuse, victims of a crime.  They have little or no experience with the judicial system, and if they do have experience with it, the experiences were likely not positive ones.  It is up to us as advocates to point out all of their choices, being sure to explain them all thoroughly and advise them of the possible consequences of each choice.  It is never up to us to make those choices for them, or to try to force them to make a certain choice.  This process may be painful for them, and require a lot of patience on our part, but it is necessary for them to begin the process of reclaiming their own lives.  If we are allowed the privilege of working with them over a period of time, it is rewarding to watch them grow and develop and begin to make decisions…..good, healthy decisions……..for themselves and their families on a regular basis.  When one is used to making decisions and choices, we fail to remember how many of these things we do each day……….choices about when to get up, what to wear, what to eat, how to fill our time…….and on and on.  When a victim has not been allowed to make any decisions, the sheer number of choices they have to make each day can be overwhelming.  Our guidance as their advocates can make their path back to serenity and safety much less complicated.  We must remember to guide them with the respect they have been denied for so long.

This subject has been on my mind lately as I work with a victim who has recently become a client.  I have met with her several times, pointed out all the choices available to her situation, explained the pluses and minuses of each, and the possible consequences of each course of action.  She has begun to make decisions about her situation with an eye to what is best for her and her family.   One decision involved an Order of Protection; she chose not to pursue that relief.  She also has a relationship with another agency, one which has significant power over her at this time.   They disagree with the decision regarding the Order of Protection and have told her that she “has” to get an OP or face the permanent loss of her children.  This is being said, even though the protocol of the agency prohibits this practice, which is much like the behavior of the abuser she is trying to escape.  After spending considerable time calming her and assuring her that I would attempt to deal with this situation  I have begun conversations with the policy-enforcement officials of the other agency, hoping to change this behavior, not only in this case but others in the future.  Again, as advocates, we can make a difference in this fashion.  We may not always have immediate success, but at the very least we are showing our clients that they are not alone any longer.
Susie Kensil
Shelby County Coordinator
Domestic Violence Program

Friday, July 22, 2016

Love Yourself (part 2)

As we continue to examine what it means to love ourselves better in light of healing from domestic violence and moving forward with a more positive sense of self, there are some more practical tools to be implemented that will make a world of difference.  Let’s take a look a few more tangible ways that we can love ourselves better that will hopefully result in a more meaningful life and circle of relationships.

To begin with, we need to begin forgiving our past selves.  Were you born this morning by chance?  If not, CONGRATULATIONS!  You have a past.  With that out of the way, is there any chance that you are perfect in every way?  Still no?  Congrats!  You also have dirt in your past, just like everyone else.  We ALL have a past and those pasts are riddled with good choices, bad choices, successes, failures, wins, losses, mistakes, etc.  You get the point.  Living in the past can only keep you living in your mess.  When you confront your past and begin to forgive yourself of the mistakes made, you can begin to move forward in freedom. 

I want you to picture every big mistake you made.  In light of domestic violence, maybe you got in a relationship you knew wasn’t healthy.  Maybe you stayed in a relationship you knew wasn’t safe.  Maybe you made some poor life decisions that got you caught up in mess like drugs, alcohol, or worse.  It’s possible that in the midst of crisis you took the easy way out and stole to make ends meet, or lied when it was more convenient that facing the truth.  Face it, even good people make big mistakes.  Now imagine that everyone single one of those big mistakes is a piece of luggage.  Some might be little hand bags.  Others might be great big suitcases.  If you are carrying around the burden of your past mistakes, it is like carrying all that luggage around at once with you.  Now picture trying to go to work, pick up your groceries, eat a sandwich, or play with your child.  All that luggage is going to prevent you from doing even the most menial of tasks. 

We can all learn a lesson from this picture, but the cost and burden is probably even greater for those trapped in domestic violence.  It can prevent even the most basic and sensible decisions from being made because the cost of doing so requires too much energy or too much self-esteem.  So ask yourself, what parts of your past are you letting haunt you right now?  Where do you need to forgive yourself and where do you need to forgive and forget?  What is this baggage preventing you from accomplishing in life?  Sometimes the most loving thing you can do for yourself is simply to forgive your past self and love your present self. 

Another practical step toward loving yourself better involves starting to make the changes you know you need to make in your life.  I believe this ties nicely to forgiving your past in part.  As Marc Chernoff writes, “Just because something made you happy in the past doesn’t mean you have to keep it forever.”  We can have a different future if we want it, but we have to change what we are doing.  We’ve all heard that the definition of is doing same thing over and over expecting different results.  We have to change what we are doing in order to get a different result.  We have to change what we allow into our lives in order to gain a different outcome.

Again, when it comes to domestic violence scenarios, there tend to be some changes, big or small, that really do need to be made.  The trouble is that nobody can make those changes but the individual themselves.  And factoring the trauma and even psychological brainwashing that can take place for some, this process can take quite some time.  There might need to be a romantic relationship that needs to be abandoned.  Maybe there is a roommate or friend that needs to be let go.  It can get quite complicated with family involved, but there might be a sturdy set of healthy boundaries that need implemented in order to provide peace.  Someone might even be struggling with the decision to be totally single for a bit so that they stop falling into negative relationships.  There might be bad habits that need dropped, not to mention maybe an addiction or two.  The possibilities are certainly endless. 

So what are some of the things you are doing that cause more damage than good, and can you change it?  What about some of the things you are doing that keep you from making any progress at all, good or bad?  What are some of the things you wish you were doing in life, but you either haven’t gotten there yet or you haven’t that the courage to do?  At the end of the day, even if it costs you a great deal or there is great risk involved, isn’t it still worth it?  Isn’t the possibility of a bright future tied to some risk taking better than a certain bleak or negative one?  Take a chance and start making those changes.  And on that note…

Another very important manner of loving ourselves better is to begin embracing the mistakes we haven’t even made yet.  Einstein famously stated that, “anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”  That sure is something to chew on.  So, if you’ve made a mistake, then you must be in good company along with all those are trying adventurous new things.  If you have never made a mistake then you either have not lived at all…or you are a liar.  The idea is to not let fear of making mistakes dictate what your future looks like. 

For domestic violence victims, fear is a significant part of the equation.  Mixed with the abusers typical barrage of insults and aforementioned brainwashing, I hear a lot of abused women talk about how they must be the problem, and therefore they should stop trying to change anything since it always results in abuse.  We of course know that the abuse was likely going to happen no matter what the victim did.  I have also heard a fair amount of victims fall prey to the lie that they are terrible, worthless, unwanted people and that nobody else would want them anyway so why try.  They don’t even take a shot at freedom or real future love because they thing it can only end in failure.  Even the fear of not finding anyone else and returning to the abuser looking a fool is a very real issue for some victims.  Breaking the choke hold of fear in your life can be the most empowering event, but it certainly isn’t easy.  But on a positive note, there are many who have overcome failure that we can draw inspiration from.

Michael Jordan, the world’s greatest basketball player ever, was cut from his high school basketball team and cried.  The Beatles were rejected by Decca Recording Studios who said they, “have no future in show business.”  Steve Jobs was unceremoniously removed from a company he started.  Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper for lacking imagination and original ideas.  Oprah was demoted from her job as a news anchor because she “wasn’t fit for television.  And Einstein wasn’t even able to speak until he was 4 years old, and his teachers claimed he would never amount to much.

Seeing that list can make you feel like you’re in pretty good company as a failure.  I would take any one of their stories.  Michael Jordan has even famously announced, “I have missed over 9000 shots in my career.  I have lost almost 300 games.  26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed.  I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life.  And that is why I succeed.”

The reality is, like Einstein stated, if they had never taken a chance and tried something new, they would never have learned to be great at something.  In a nutshell, success requires failure.  It’s not about preventing the fall, but rather, as Batman’s dad said, it’s about learning how to get back up.  So what are some of your fears and what makes you so afraid of them?  Is it mostly wrapped around failing?  What would you have tried or would like to try if fear of failure didn’t play a role?  If you are a victim of domestic violence, how has fear of failure kept you in abusive relationships?  Do you believe you can embrace your failures, learn from them, and rise to new heights?  I do.  So begin to love yourself in amazing new ways.  Forgive your past, start making some changes, and keep taking healthy risks even when you fail.  Because guess what…you are still worth it.


Jared Bohland

Client Services Coordinator

Dove Inc. Domestic Violence Program



Source material includes 16 Simple Ways to Love Yourself Again, Written by Marc Chernoff

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