Friday, August 31, 2018

See You In September

As we embark on the busiest month of our year (September) for the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), I cannot help but feel thankful and blessed. Thankful for the hundreds of volunteers who help to make our communities better. Blessed to be the Director of a National Service Program who harnesses the wisdom and talent from some of the most wonderful people one could ever hope to meet.  I have met lifelong homemakers, mechanics, scientists, and accountants, teachers, and farmers, our volunteers come in all shapes and sizes and range from 55 and older.  I have met men and woman who can crochet the most beautiful afghans. Talked with service groups who provide scholarships to children. I have seen the handy work of skilled woodworkers and I am always amazed at how generous and loving each volunteer I meet is to me and our community. 

I look forward to September even though I know how busy the month will be because of the vast amount of time I will get to spend with them. Be it our "Short Stacks for a Tall Cause" fundraiser with Applebee’s on the 8th, or Cruise 11 in downtown Decatur on the 9th, or my favorite visiting and mingling with our volunteers at our annual volunteer appreciation luncheon. The luncheon is when I get to thank our volunteers and honor them in person. I get to see the volunteers who I have not seen in a year because they are so busy. I get to be a part of announcing the R.O.SE. Award winners and brag to all who are listening, how awesome our volunteers are, and I am honored to be doing so again this year.

Yes, I am thankful and blessed to be learning, serving, and honoring some of the greatest volunteers around, and I thank them for a job well done we could not do this without you.

Charlie Gillaspie

RSVP Director

Friday, August 24, 2018

What’s in a Number?

Every day we encounter numbers, lots and lots of numbers. From the date on our calendars to the mileage odometer in our cars we see numbers daily. Some numbers make us smile such as the Christmas countdown my coworker Angie Williams keeps. Angie is great at keeping a countdown to Christmas. As the Christmas Basket Coordinator, it is essential for her to track but secretly between you and me she LOVES Christmas!!
Numbers are part of life, but we often overlook their significance. The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program has lots of numbers that are important to us and to our community. Like the number 42, this is the number of years Dove, Inc. has sponsored the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program, a National Service Program that serves others in our community. Or the number 10, did you know that 10% of our active volunteers are Veterans who served our country. We also have 76, which is the average age of volunteers who performed volunteer hours this last fiscal year. We have significant numbers too such as 354, the number of volunteers who submitted their hours to us to record. From that, we have 256, which is the number of volunteers who volunteer at two or more stations during the last year.
The Independent Sector values a volunteer’s time at $26.02 per hour served, which gives our program a value of 1.6 million dollars of services in the community that volunteers performed, and that’s just the hours we captured from those who have enrolled in our program. This does not count the active volunteers under the age of 55 who are volunteering in their community or those above 55 who have not yet enrolled in RSVP.  Our program goal is to keep those 55 plus healthy, active, and engaged in their community by providing meaningful volunteer opportunities. There are volunteer opportunities that harness their expertise, talent, and passion for giving back to others in the community.   90 is the number of partner stations one can choose when volunteering in the community. You pick where, when, and how often you would like to serve.
1963, this number represents the birth year for all people who will turn 55 this year and become eligible to join our National Service Program. Is this your number?
Charlie Gillaspie
RSVP Director

Friday, August 17, 2018

More On MAX

My name is Pastor Shane Hartman. I have had the opportunity to coordinate the MAX program for the last five years. In that time, between the MAX program and Ameren's Warm Neighbor Cool Friends, MAX has had the opportunity to help over 5000 families with close to a million dollars of financial assistance.

I have been able to help seniors get medicine, help people keep their homes, help struggling students complete their GED’s, keep water on for Moma’s and their babies, help people get out of the cold or heat for night, give the gift of new glasses, help people get teeth pulled, assist people with bus passes and keep the lights on for many.

Don’t tell my boss, but I have the greatest job ever. I get to directly impact people’s lives in the moment of their crisis. When people come into my office there are having the worst day of their lives. Hopefully, when they leave they have hope and a little joy in their lives. 

This is only possible with the generous support from churches, foundations, and generous people in the Decatur Community.

Thank you for the opportunity, Pastor Shane “THE MAX GUY”

MAX locations:

Site:  Decatur First United Methodist Church, 201 W. North, Decatur
Hours:  Monday - Thursday, 1:00 to 3:00 p.m.
Site: Dove Clinton Office, 803 W. Leander, Clinton
Hours:  Tuesday Mornings, 8:30 to 11:30 a.m.
Warm Neighbors Cool Friends
Site:  Homeward Bound Offices, 788 E. Clay, Decatur
Hours: second and fourth Thursdays of the month, 9:00 to 11:00 a.m.
Site:  The Good Samaritan Inn, 920 N. Union Street, Decatur
Hours:  second and fourth Fridays of each month, 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Site: Prairie Avenue Christian Church, 2201 E. Prairie, Decatur
Hours:  Wednesday Mornings, 9:00 to 11:00 a.m.

Friday, August 10, 2018

However, there is good news...

Domestic violence has long been an issue that was shoved behind closed doors and preferably never discussed.  Society’s attitude was that it was a personal issue or that what happened in the home was only the business of the people who lived in the home.  Fortunately, over the past decades that idea has begun to change.  Domestic violence has begun to be considered the crime that it is, and people are beginning to realize that it truly is everyone’s business.  The revelation of all the abuse cases in the entertainment industry has given birth to the #metoo and #enough movements.  Press coverage of all types of abuse has increased dramatically and victims of both sexes are feeling safe enough to come forward with their stories.  This is a refreshing and long-awaited change.

Just four short years ago, domestic violence was virtually ignored in the world of collegiate and professional sports. In February 2014, Ray Rice, a Baltimore Ravens running back, attacked his fiancĂ©e (now wife) in an elevator in a New Jersey casino.  They were both arrested, and Rice was later charged with a felony.  The charges were dropped at a later date.  The Ravens suspended Rice for two games.  There was some press coverage and some criticism of the NFL for not taking the problem of domestic violence seriously.  In September 2014 TMZ located photographs from casino security cameras detailing the extent of the physical abuse inflicted by Rice.  As proof of the saying “A picture is worth a thousand words” news media and social media erupted.  Rice was suspended again by the Ravens and eventually his contract was terminated.  It was unfortunate that it took the photos to bring about justice.  The outcry in the press, especially sports media was long and loud.   This incident caused the NFL to strengthen its domestic violence policy; cases since Rice have been handled in a more fair and uniform manner most of the time.

College sports have had their share of abuse cases over the years. Historically they were dealt with quietly, or not at all.  In recent years, however, cases of abuse have been handled more openly, especially when the media and social media become involved.  Several high- profile coaches and university officials have lost their jobs due to their handling, or more accurately not handling, these cases.  Last week one of the biggest names in college football was placed on paid suspension.  Urban Meyer, currently head coach at Ohio State University, has won multiple national championships; his current team had just been chosen as a favorite for this season.  The university acted swiftly when the details of the domestic violence incidents were made public by a media source.  Five years ago, that would certainly not have happened.

As a domestic violence advocate who is also a sports junkie, I have followed this story daily.  Zach Smith, an OSU assistant coach, also worked for Coach Meyer in Florida.  He was first accused of abusing his wife in 2009; at that time, friends and family urged her to drop charges against him. Meyer and his wife allegedly counseled with the couple at that time, but there was no disciplinary action taken against Smith.  There was another incident in 2015; Coach Meyer was asked about this incident at a recent media event.  He not only denied that it happened but asked the reporter why anyone would make something like that up.  Zach Smith, however, had been fired from OSU the day before, right after the reporter had filed his first story about the incident.  Within the next few days, the reporter printed evidence that not only had the incident happened, but that Meyer’s wife was aware of it and presumably Meyer was as well.  I watched with interest mixed with disgust when the alleged perpetrator gave an interview portraying himself as the victim and his wife as the aggressor; this did little to explain all the bruises in her pictures or his text messages apologizing for the abuse.  The university is investigating; it will be some time, if ever, before the entire truth is known. Who knew what and when did they know it?  Why was Zach Smith fired nine years after the first incident and three years after the second and how many other incidents were there in between?  Do the officials at the university really believe that perpetrating domestic violence is an offense that would cause someone to be fired only when the press finds out about it?  If people knew about these incidents, why was nothing done to protect his wife and children?  Possibly there are more questions than we will ever have answers for. 

There is good news in this situation, however.  Society is currently in a state of mind that they are no longer going to ignore situations like this.  The press and especially social media are not going to be quiet any longer.  Professional teams and university officials can no longer afford to refuse to act, especially once these situations become public knowledge.  OSU may have been late in acting, but the action they finally took was severe. While we don’t know what the eventual outcome will be, we can at least be encouraged that there has been some action taken.  It was especially encouraging to listen to sports media for the past few days.  Male and female reporters alike were quick to jump to the defense of the victim and to condemn the actions of the abuser and those who tried to cover it up. Several of the male commentators were even more eloquent in her defense that were the females.  While I watched the abuser’s interview with disgust, I had to smile at the look of total disbelief and disdain on the face of his interviewer; I am sure the look on my face was similar. We can be encouraged that we are making some progress as we try to ensure that domestic violence is treated like any other crime and that victims are respected for their courage and not blamed for the abuse.  Maybe, just maybe, we finally have come a long way, baby.
Susie Kensil
Shelby County Coordinator

The winds of change are upon us

  As the summer fades away, the winds of change are upon us.    The wildflowers are in bloom along the roadways, the crops in the fields are...