Dove Center sees staff, budget double, enabling it to add services, help more survivors

Lana Lustig addresses audience members after accepting the Volunteer Service Award during the Dove Center's annual meeting at the Holiday Inn in St. George, Utah, Nov. 13, 2018 | Photo by Markee Heckenliable, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — The Dove Center, a Southern Utah nonprofit dedicated to helping survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, has strengthened its programs and provided advocacy and support to more than 800 people this year.

Community members, donors, directors and staff met Tuesday afternoon at the Holiday Inn in St. George for the organization’s annual meeting, where members shared the success and growth of the Dove Center throughout 2018.

Ruth Weniger, president of the board of directors, said what was once a staff of 15, whom she described as being “stretched to human capacity,” is now a staff of 35, with a presence in Kanab, Colorado City/Hildale and the correctional facility for women in Hurricane. She also said the Dove Center’s budget is twice what it was in 2015.

The center merged with the Erin Kimball Memorial Foundation in May 2017, which has allowed the Dove Center to provide transitional housing.

“My love for and commitment to organizations that work to support survivors is deep and full,” Weniger said.

Blossoming of services and support

During its 2018 fiscal year, the Dove Center provided face-to-face advocacy to 847 individuals, including 108 rape and sexual assault victims, 42 victims in the emergency room and 36 individuals receiving court advocacy.

At its emergency center, Dove sheltered 233 people – 143 adults and 90 children. At Erin’s House, 23 were sheltered – 11 adults and 12 children.

Executive Director Lindsey Boyer discusses the Dove Center’s annual report at its annual meeting in St. George, Utah, Nov. 13, 2018 | Photo by Markee Heckenliable, St. George News

The center has also been able to increase its counseling hours, said Executive Director Lindsey Boyer. Individual counseling hours increased from 973 hours in 2017 to 1,342 hours in 2018.

In addition to helping more survivors, the Dove Center has been able to provide more services.

The center is responsible for providing services to Washington and Kane counties, Boyer said, and Kane County is more than an hour away from St. George, making services more difficult to access.

“We now have a dedicated, contracted therapist out in Kane County,” she said, adding that the therapist meets multiple survivors on a regular basis each week.

After a few years of planning, another service the center has been able to implement this year is its safe pets program. The program allows the center to facilitate safe shelter and/or boarding for pets who families in domestic violence situations won’t leave behind.

“We’ve been able to remove that barrier for families this year because we have a way to help them get a safe place for their animal.”

In regard to helping youth in the community, the Dove Center has also been able to provide more services, including a girls group at Fossil Ridge Intermediate School, where young girls learn about healthy relationships and preparing for life. Boyer said the center hopes to replicate the program in all schools.

The center has also continued working with the St. George Police Department by executing a full year of lethality assessment protocol, which Boyer said has helped the center educate more survivors about lethality risk and get them linked to services.

“We’ve also been able to strengthen our relationship with the St. George Police Department to the point of having them come over at a moment’s notice to take their K-9 unit through our shelter and do a drug sweep in case we have a risk of drugs or drug activity that may have made its way in the shelter,” she said.

Volunteer coordinator Marina Anderson at the Dove Center’s annual meeting at the Holiday Inn in St. George, Utah, Nov. 13, 2018 | Photo by Markee Heckenliable, St. George News

During its annual meeting, staff members emphasized the importance of financial support, particularly from the community.

“We have a saying around the office, or rather, I have a saying around the office, that everyone who works at Dove is an advocate and a fundraiser,” said Adele Pincock, director of community engagement.

With a growing roster of donors and needs, Pincock said, the center in August hired Hollie Reina as development manager to maintain the growing momentum of funding.

Reina organized the center’s annual Purple Purse Challenge, which is meant to bring awareness to financial abuse and raise funds for services such as financial health and life skill classes. The event garnered $22,040 and leveraged an additional $7,500 in bonus prizes, netting $29,540.

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Overall, in 2018, the Dove Center has received more than $350,000 in private donations and local grants, more than $130,000 of in-kind donations and more than $580,000 in government funding.

From landscaping to answering helpline calls

The Dove Center is continuing to provide a variety of options for volunteering, such as one-time services like hair care and yoga classes to helping a client recover from trauma.

Volunteer coordinator Marina Anderson said during its fiscal year the center had 56 new inquires of people who wanted to volunteer, with 38 actually going through the application and interview process, and 31 of those 38 going on to do some sort of service for the center.

“We work really hard at finding a good fit, looking at what our needs are, looking at the skills and expertise of the people who come in,” Anderson said.

Margie Huber, who has dedicated more than 10 years of service to the Dove Center, accepts her Community Service Award during the center’s annual meeting in St. George, Utah, Nov. 13, 2018 | Photo by Markee Heckenliable, St. George News

The center logged more than 4,800 volunteer hours provided by 78 volunteers in 2018. After doing research, Anderson said the financial value of those hours is more than $120,000.

To honor its volunteer program and the commitment of volunteers, the center ended its annual meeting by awarding three service awards. The 2018 Volunteer Service Award was given to Lana Lustig, who Pincock described as having a generous heart and always willing to help.

Pincock said Lustig has volunteered with the center for many years and has dedicated time to Dove’s Charity Gift Wrap fundraiser.

“This savvy lady has elevated this event over the last few years to a much higher level and manages the associated chaos in a way that’s graceful and frankly disarming,” Pincock said.

The Community Partner Award was given to Five County Association of Governments – a voluntary association of local governments which helps strengthen federal, state and local government officials in their roles.

The Community Service Award was given to Margie Huber, who has dedicated nearly 60 years of her life to volunteerism. Huber has volunteered with the center for more than 10 years and has served as board president and vice president.

As Huber accepted her award, she shared the following story of when she was working in the shelter’s kitchen years ago.

This lady I presumed was a new resident came in … and she had two of the nastiest black eyes I have ever seen. I said to her, ‘Good morning. How are you today?’ She said, ‘Well, because of all of you, I’m a lot better than I was yesterday.’ That just said everything the Dove Center is about.

To learn more about the Dove Center and its mission and services, click here.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews | @markeekaenews

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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