In every issue, Frontline
profiles a different Rape Crisis and Recovery Center. This quarter, we asked Heather Hanline of the Dove Center of Garrett County to share the Center's story with our readers.
MCASA: What is your name and title and how long have you worked with your agency?
Hi. My name is Heather Hanline. I am the Executive Director of the Dove Center, Garrett County’s dual sexual assault and domestic violence program. I have worked at the Dove Center since October of 1998, and have been the director since October of 2001.
MCASA: Tell us about your Rape Crisis Program and the issues it tackles.
The Dove Center is a private, non-profit program, providing comprehensive services (shelter, hot-line, individual and group counseling, advocacy, accompaniment, information and referral, outreach and education, 911 cell phones, pet housing, and more) to victims of sexual assault and/or domestic violence. The agency started out as a grassroots effort by several local women, back in 1991. By 1997, they had opened a small shelter. We very quickly outgrew that location. We then spent nearly 10 years planning, fundraising, and working toward a new facility, which came to fruition in 2012. This 5,500 square foot building houses our administrative, counseling and shelter activities in a welcoming, safe environment. It is an achievement that we are very proud of, and is a symbol that we are a permanent source of safety and healing for victims in rural Western Maryland.
Some of the aspects that make our program unique are: 1.)The ability to house cats and dogs of shelter victims on-site. Last year, we acquired a grant through the RedRover Foundation, and we now have 3 large cat condos, and 3 outdoor dog kennels containing high quality dog houses. We have a partnership with a local veterinary care provider to get care for pets as necessary. 2.) We have 2 counselors who provide services in our local schools on a daily basis. They are providing counseling to students who have witnessed domestic violence or have been victims of abuse, and they also conduct prevention activities. 3.) We have two counselors who are currently completing requirements to become Certified Addictions Counselors, so as to provide substance abuse and victimization counseling concurrently. 4.) We have an excellent working relationship with our local Community College. We have a counselor on site twice per month, offering counseling hours, as well as information and referral, and prevention activities. We are currently expanding that program, and will be a part of the annual student orientation, and will participate in the implementation of the One Love Program on campus.
MCASA: Why are you a member of MCASA?
We are a member of MCASA because we value the State and National advocacy that they do on behalf of programs like ours, and the valuable, reliable resource of information and training that they offer. It is such a comfort to know that they can be called at any time, for guidance regarding clients, clinical questions, legal advocacy questions, policy questions, etc.
MCASA: Have you had any recent events or actions that you'd like to tell us about?
We are excited to report that the Dove Center was recently selected by the AllState Foundation to participate in the 2015 Purple Purse Challenge. This is a fundraising platform through Crowdrise, that will allow our agency to leverage donations through daily, weekly, and monthly contests, matches, and public awareness messages.
We are also gearing up for our biggest annual fundraiser, the Festival of Trees, Garrett County. This is a fun-filled, family event, held the weekend after Thanksgiving, featuring children’s activities, vendors, and beautiful, hand crafted Christmas trees, wreaths, and centerpieces, that are auctioned off to benefit the Dove Center. More information about the event can be found at www.fotgc.org
MCASA: What sexual assault prevention work does your program do?
Our sexual assault prevention work consists of the efforts described above in all of our local schools, and the Community College. We also do exhaustive social media prevention work, through Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. We create various information tables, displays, newspaper articles, brochures, speaking engagements, billboards, movie theater ads, posters, a web-site, and more.
MCASA: If your program received $100,000 in new funds today, what would you do with it?
A portion would be designated to assist with the cost of legal representation for victims. A portion would go toward purchasing an agency vehicle, to allow us to assist with transporting clients, as public transportation is limited in our area. A portion would be used to assist clients with the costs of security deposits, first month rent, and utility costs, when leaving the shelter. A portion would be designated for emergency client needs. A portion would be used to begin looking at establishing transitional housing as part of our program. And finally, a portion would be used to reward our amazing staff with a raise or cost of living increase, which they have not received in years.
This article appeared in the Summer 2015 Issue