WATCH NOW: An Evening with Dove House is all about kids | Local News

KAREN KISTLER

An Evening with Dove House was an emotional evening as approximately 350 people filled the halls of the Charles Mack Citizen Center in downtown Mooresville to support and celebrate the children’s rights center’s 20th anniversary.

The excitement of being able to return to a live event could be felt and expressed as Kevin Mielke, Vice Chairman of the Dove House Board, shared his thanks to everyone for attending and reiterated how much they appreciated the support of sponsors. .

There was a sense of gratitude and anticipation when a surprise was presented to Dove House’s first executive director, Brenda Deal. It was the Reverend John Dawson, founding member and board member, who invited Deal to the stage, telling the crowd that “20 years ago there was a family in crisis who didn’t know not what to do. .” He noted that a model advocacy center was shared with them and a group prayed for what to do, and “the first answer to prayer was Brenda Deal, who looked and said four words, ‘We can do it'”. head of the steering committee and helped them get their first 501c3.

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It was then announced that one of the things they wanted to do was provide therapeutic care at Dove House and have someone on staff to do that for the children. So they want to rearrange some of the rooms to make that happen.

“We would like to honor Brenda by calling it Brenda’s Healing Corner,” said Dawson, who was greeted with cheers and applause from the audience and emotional tears when she heard the announcement and saw the sign with that name. .

A moment of celebration and welcome was experienced as Dawson introduced new Executive Director, Beth McKeithan, to the group.

McKeithan, from the Lake Norman region, became Dove House’s fourth chief executive when she started in February this year. A graduate of East Carolina University, she worked for several years for a non-profit organization in Atlanta, Georgia. In 2010, she joined the United States Peace Corps and was sent to Namibia, Africa to serve as a health volunteer. She worked with abused children in Africa and knew this was the career path she wanted to follow when she returned to the United States in 2012.

Prior to coming to Dove House, McKeithan worked as Executive Director for Prevent Child Abuse Rowan in Salisbury until January 2021. It was noted that she is a trained forensic investigator and was the lead developer of the body safety program used by the Iredell/Statesville, Alexander and Mooresville City School.

And Dawson added, “and she has a wonderful heart for children.”

As McKeithan took to the podium, she pointed to the words, “what a pleasure to be here tonight and to work with such a wonderful organization.” She also expressed her excitement that they could all be back together for the event.

She then took the opportunity to share some snippets of information about the center as well as some statistics since its opening in 2002.

She noted the partner agencies in Iredell and Alexander counties that make up the multidisciplinary community team, including six law enforcement agencies, two departments of social services, the district attorney’s office, the Guardian ad Litem programs, several medical and mental health providers and the Dove House. Personal.

“Every day, we all work together to respond cohesively to every report of child sexual abuse with the common goal of reducing further trauma for children and their families in crisis,” she shared.

Since 2002, when the doors opened, Dove House has been able to serve 11,390 non-offending children and family members.

Additional statistics she noted, which drew much applause, included that the overall successful prosecution rate rose from less than 20% to 88%.

And, since implementing the Safety First program in 2016 in both Iredell and Alexander counties, they have trained 20,727 students in body safety and given them a plan.

“This is possible because of the incredible support we have received over the past 20 years,” McKeithan told them. “Many of you in this room have been on this journey with Dove House since the very beginning. Some of you for several years and some of you may be new to our organization. Anyway , we hope you ALL stay with us for the next 20 years. Of course, we wish there was no need for Dove House at all, but as long as there is, with your continued support, we We will continue our advocacy and intervention work, working to expand our prevention awareness program, provide medical services and mental health programs, and be a safe haven for child victims and non-offending family members.

A moving testimonial followed which silenced the room as the story was shared of a child victim of sexual abuse and the healing journey that came with the help of Dove House. The speaker recounted how the love and support from the people of Dove House both transformed and saved the victim’s life.

“Your support is not just about Dove House. You support the thousands of lives that Dove House saves. You support the miracles that happen there every day,” the speaker said.

The room erupted to loud applause and a standing ovation after the testimony and that reaction carried over into the live auction that followed as the crowd were reminded throughout the event that the monies collected would support this organization.

Jack Grossman, a member of the center’s Legacy Board and who, it was noted, “created the concept for this event and is an extraordinary fundraiser,” introduced Larry Sprinkle, who again served as auctioneer for the live auction portion. “Grossman is the heart and soul of this auction,” Sprinkle said. Grossman and Sprinkle were honored at the end of the evening for their dedication and service in helping Dove House and received several items of appreciation.

Sprinkle reminded the crowd, “We’re here tonight because of an organization called Dove House. Every day of the week, innocent children are brought into this house. I was here. If you’ve never been there, you walk in and see the sanctuary that it is. It is a horrible situation that is happening in the United States of America. We are here tonight because this is the only opportunity we have to fund the operation and we desperately need your money.

As each new item from the live auction was revealed, Sprinkle’s enthusiasm and excitement got the crowd to start bidding. On several items, there were bidding wars where the prices continued to rise and the cheers rose at the same level.

Live auction items included handcrafted furniture, a hot air balloon ride, trips to Mexico, Lake Tahoe and the mountains of North Carolina, a golf cart and a custom Harley-Davidson.

In several rooms adjacent to the Citizens’ Center, silent auction items were displayed where participants walked through the rooms to view them and place their bids. Items ranged from gift baskets, furniture and paintings to tools, sports memorabilia and more.

Attendees were also encouraged to check out the raffle items and Buy It Now: Travel packages that were also available during the event.

Live music, both before the auction and at the end of the evening, was appreciated by the spectators. The Buffu’gees provided music in the banquet hall before the event began and while attendees ate. After the auction, the chairmen of the board of directors offered a live concert in the silent auction room to close the evening.

Prior to the start of the event, attendees were invited to sample dishes from the number of participating restaurants on Restaurant Row. These included Brick House Tavern, Epic Chophouse, Havana 33, Hickory Tavern, Food Junkee, Lake Norman Catering, Monsoon Asian Grill and Sushi Bar, On the Nines, Pomodoro’s Italian American Café, Tim’s Table, Wobbly Butt and El Cerro Reyes Mexican Restaurant.

During the event, awards were noted and presented to the various levels of sponsors. Randy Marion was this year’s title sponsor.

Platinum sponsors were G. Campbell Construction; Large contract beverage manufacturers; and John Donoghue Family & ACC, Inc.

Gold sponsors were G&W Equipment; Highland Canine Connect; Husky Rack & Wire; Spivey Construction and Pippin Home Designs; Kewaunee Scientific Society; toter; Novant Health; The Zulman Family; and United Beverages of North Carolina.

Silver sponsors were Child of the Forest, Jack Grossman; Forged wood; Long Insurance & Associates; The Langtree Group; Vaco; and Rewired Academy.

The names of the Bronze sponsors and their awards were on each table.

Mielke shared that every year the Dove House board highlights special supporters and presents them with an Above and Beyond award. This year, three families dear to the center were honored. These included Phil and Deborah Rotella; the John Donoghue family; and the Goff family, carrying on their father’s legacy.

No final amount on the amount raised at this year’s event was ready, as McKeithan noted that there were still things to finalize. She noted that the event “went really well and we raised a lot of much needed money for Dove House!”

She went on to express her thanks by sharing, “We are overwhelmed with gratitude for the support we have received from this event! The way this community supports the work we do is invaluable to us. We work so hard to help children who come through Dove House, we couldn’t do it without the funds we receive from this event.

Volunteers Bill and Sally Winey, who have volunteered at this event since the first year, added that they also help because of the children. Bill said, “It’s such a good cause for the kids. That’s really what it’s all about. I think almost everyone here is there for the kids.

Sally added: ‘If you can’t do what the people at Dove House are doing, support them and it helps bring the right people together to help the children because that’s the most important thing. The children are the most important.

McKeithan noted that next year’s event will take place on April 15 and encouraged people to mark it on their calendars. They are also planning a family event at Dove House on September 17, she said, and all members of the community are invited to attend and help them celebrate 20 years of serving children in Iredell and Iredell counties. of Alexander.

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