Episode 104

Dove House Children’s Advocacy Center

Meet Beth McKeithan

by | Apr 21, 2022

Show Notes:

In this episode, I’m shining a spotlight on Dove House Children’s Advocacy Center in Statesville. Dove House Children’s Advocacy Center is a fully accredited 501c3 nonprofit organization that supports the investigation, prosecution, and therapy and follow-up of reported child sexual abuse and assault cases in Iredell and Alexander counties – all from their safe and child-friendly facility.

Beth McKiethan, the executive director at Dove House, joins me to share the story of her child advocacy journey and the story of Dove House.

I want to thank the team at Launch LKN for introducing me to the Dove House organization. Launch LKN was featured in episode 91 of the podcast. I also want to thank the team at Hoptown Brewing Company in Mooresville for their fundraising activation called “Sip It Forward.” Dove House is one of the local nonprofits that will be benefiting from the Sip It Forward campaign this year. You can get to know the founders of Hoptown Brewing Company, Sandy and Scott Plemmons in episode 102 of the podcast.

Stay with me until the end of the episode where I’ll remind you of ways that you can get involved and support Dove House this year. For now, lean in with me and get to know Dove House Children’s Advocacy Center and their executive director, Beth McKeithan.

Dove House Children’s Advocacy Center
2407 Simonton Road
Statesville, NC 28625
(704) 883-9814

Thanks to these local businesses:

Launch LKN
Hoptown Brewing Company

Special thanks to our sponsors:

Transcript:

Narrator
Welcome to The Best of LKN, a podcast featuring the best small businesses and the most influential professionals around Lake Norman, North Carolina. Each week, we spotlight those businesses and individuals that are making a positive impact here in the Lake Norman area. Thanks for joining us, enjoy the show.

Jeff
Hello, and welcome back to The Best of LKN Podcast, the podcast that shares conversations with the best and brightest small business owners, entrepreneurs, and leaders of the most amazing nonprofits in the Lake Norman area. In this episode, I’m shining a spotlight on Dove House Children’s Advocacy Center in Statesville. Dove House is a fully accredited 501c3 nonprofit organization that supports the investigation, prosecution, and therapy and follow-up of reported child sexual abuse and assault cases in Iredell and Alexander counties — all from their safe and child-friendly facility. Beth McKeithan, the executive director at Dove House, joins me to share the story of her child advocacy journey and the story of Dove House. I want to thank the team at Launch LKN for introducing me to the Dove House organization. Launch LKN was featured in Episode 91 of the podcast. I also want to thank the team at Hoptown Brewing Company in Mooresville for their fundraising activation called Sip it Forward. Dove House is one of the local nonprofits that will be benefiting from the Sip it Forward campaign this year, you can get to know the founders of Hoptown Brewing Company, Sandy and Scott Plemmons, in Episode 102 of the podcast. And finally, before we dive into this episode, I want to give a special thanks as always, to our sponsors that support this production. You can find links to all of our sponsors on our homepage at thebestoflkn.com or in the show notes for this episode. Stay with me until the end of the episode where I’ll remind you of ways that you can get involved and support Dove House this year. For now, lean in with me and get to know Dove House Children’s Advocacy Center and their executive director, Beth McKeithan.

Jeff
Beth, welcome to the podcast.

Beth
Thank you so much, Jeff, thank you for having us today.

Jeff
Yeah, great to have you. Great to meet you in person, well, virtually. And been looking forward to featuring Dove House on the podcast. Dove House was recommended to me as someone that I should, as an organization, that I should contact and reach out to by a few of our guests in the past. One that stands out are the folks at Launch LKN. And here in Davidson, they’re based in Davidson, but they work with a lot of companies around the Lake Norman area, but we’ve had others as well recommend that I contact and reach out to Dove House and feature you on the podcast.

Beth
Awesome.

Jeff
So yeah, thanks for taking the time. Beth, before we get into the work that you and the team are doing at the Dove House, share a little bit of your background for the listeners, your career and what led you to Dove House.

Beth
Absolutely. So, I’m from the Lake Norman area. I grew up here and attended East Carolina University, I got a degree in business management there and moved to Atlanta. I worked for a nonprofit for a few years and then really realized that I wanted to do something kind of on a grander scale. So, I joined the Peace Corps and was shipped off to Namibia, Africa, and I was a help volunteer there. Worked a lot with victims of, orphans of HIV AIDS and the epidemic there, and then a lot of child abuse victims. And so, when I got back to the States, I really realized that that was something that I wanted to do with my career and just trying to find that right fit. And then found a position in Rowan County with the child advocacy center there and served as director there for just over eight years and then took a year off to stay home with my little ones and then I started here at Dove House in February.

Jeff
February of this year?

Beth
This year. Yeah.

Jeff
Oh wow, congratulations. Yeah.

Beth
Thank you. Brand new.

Jeff
Peace Corps. So, you’re the first guest I’ve had on the podcast that has experience with the Peace Corps. That’s amazing. Yeah, that’s really cool. What an experience that must have been.

Beth
It was amazing. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done for my career. And I still actually am very connected. My family that I lived with over there came here for my wedding and I have a little girl over there that, kind of, I was really close to, I actually wanted to adopt, and I sponsor her a little bit just to help her. Now she’s in college. So, it’s been about 10 years since I was there, which is crazy.

Jeff
Yeah, that’s really cool. So, child advocacy is something that you have had quite a bit of experience with on more than one continent.

Beth
Yes.

Jeff
And what, share for listeners how you connected with Dove House and a little bit of the story of Dove House, a little bit of the history of the organization.

Beth
So, a lot of the centers across the state, the state level is growing, but we all kind of stay connected with each other for support. And so, I’ve worked with Dove House for many years, you know, and my family knew about Dove House, having grown up here. And just always loved the staff here and the folks here on the board. And, you know, it was when I got the opportunity to work a little closer to my family, it was an opportunity that we definitely couldn’t pass up. So, very happy to be a part of this team. It’s a wonderful team. Dove House is celebrating their 20 years in business this year. And it’s just a wonderful organization that serves child victims of sexual abuse. And when cases are reported to law enforcement or DSS, then they make a referral to the Dove House. And the family, the non-offending caregiver, and the child come here for a forensic interview, and a medical if needed, and then they’re set up with therapeutic treatment. So, everything is free for the family while they’re here. And everything exists to reduce trauma for that child and their family when they’re going through this process. Because it can be very, very scary.

Jeff
How long ago was Dove House founded, 20 years did you say?

Beth
Twenty years. This year we’ll be celebrating 20 years. Yes.

Jeff
And Dove House works very closely with local government, social agencies, and law enforcement agencies. Is that correct?

Beth
Correct. So, Department of Social Services, and we serve Iredell and Alexander counties. So, we work with the law enforcement jurisdictions in both counties.

Jeff
So, there’s the initial connection, the forensic interview, where does it go from there? What are some of the services that Dove House provides these kids and family members for support?

Beth
So, when the case comes in for us, when the child comes to us, there are several different areas that we’re trying to look at. So, the criminal aspect, we are trying to help law enforcement and the District Attorney’s office, figure out what happened, and get the very best story that we can from that child, again, while reducing trauma. Our job is to be very neutral and gather those facts from that child so that they can have a strong story. It’s recorded, and that is evidence for the District Attorney’s office. And then they can move forward with prosecution or whatever, maybe, you know, every case is different. And then with Department of Social Services, they’re looking at the safety for the child. So, is there an immediate need to do something drastic? Does DSS need to step in? And twice a month we have a meeting called the multidisciplinary team and law enforcement, DSS, mental health, the District Attorney’s office, Guardian ad Litem, anybody who’s involved with these kids, we all come together, we sit at the table here at Dove House together, and we talk about every case that comes through. And so, we make sure that no child falls through the cracks, that law enforcement, the District Attorney’s office has exactly all the information that they need, and that child is safe. And so, if anything needs to be escalated with DSS, then they can handle that. But it’s really this theory of working together as a team, so that that child doesn’t have to keep telling that story over and over and over. So, we bring them here, they tell their story, and then we can all kind of move forward. And every person has a role with that child’s case.

Jeff
I noticed on the website that there’s a lot of reference to teamwork, and how Dove House works as a team, with agencies, and that’s basically kind of what you just described, right? That kind of encapsulates how Dove House is able to work as a team?

Beth
Absolutely. We serve as the hub and what we know is that these cases are stronger, when everybody that has a different piece of the puzzle comes together. And so, we want to make sure that that child is safe. We want to provide a space for healing for that child. And when they come here, it’s important that they feel physically safe. But it’s also important that they feel psychologically safe from whoever the alleged perpetrator is. And so, that person is not allowed on our property. And we do everything we can, you know, this, it’s a house. And so, it’s meant to feel very much like home and make that child feel at home. And they get snacks when they get here, and they have like a play area, and our family advocates are wonderful, they greet the family, and just really kind of do all they can to really bring comfort for that child and their family.

Jeff
I was gonna mention that Dove House is actually indeed a house. And I’ve seen photos of it on your website, and it’s a beautiful house. How long has Dove House been based in that particular place?

Beth
So, Dove House has been in this location since 2009. And this community has been incredible, the mortgage is fully paid off. And, you know, that helps us tremendously, because any funds that we need, we can totally put towards staff and serving the children that come through. And so, that’s just a huge relief, not to have to worry about those payments every month. But it is a beautiful facility and in a wonderful area and just a really great community. And just, I think the kids really feel that sense of warmth and comfort when they come through the doors.

Jeff
Yeah, absolutely. So important. And obviously accomplished through the help and generous support of partners in the community. Both probably individuals and families and corporate partners is my guess. I don’t know, would that be true?

Beth
Absolutely. So, we are grant and donation based. And so, we actually have a campaign going on now called 20 for 20. So, we’re asking communities, and the families in the community to donate $20 from their household to celebrate our 20 years, so $1 for each year. And just a way, we have several events throughout the year, everything’s on our website. We have our An Evening for Dove House gala coming up in June, on June 25th of this year. And that, we have events that we do every year, and just really to kind of raise awareness and, you know, celebrate all the hard work that the Dove House does, and then also bring in the much-needed funding for the children that we serve.

Beth
You mentioned the Evening for Dove House gala. That is in June. Is Larry Sprinkle the emcee again this year?

Beth
He is, he is. Yeah, he’s wonderful. And he’s a huge champion for Dove House. And we’re so grateful for everything that he does for us. But he’s awesome.

Jeff
I love it. Yeah, there’s information on the website, of course, where’s that held? Where’s that going to be held this year?

Beth
So, that’s at the community center in Mooresville, and so you can buy tickets, you can reserve a table for that event, and all that information is on the website.

Jeff
Okay, very good. You know, we’re just coming out of, the last two years have been extremely challenging for nonprofits when it comes to fundraising, because we haven’t been able to do a lot of in-person events. And so many of the nonprofit organizations that I’ve featured here on the podcast and connected with have sort of explained and enlightened me to the fact that their fundraising historically has always been conducted, the big events are always in person. I know you weren’t executive director in ’20 and ’21, but what were some ways that Dove House was able to pivot during the ’20 and ’21 calendar years to fundraise?

Beth
Well, you know, I think a lot of nonprofits had to get very creative during this time, and they still tried to do the best they could with virtual events. And you know, for the folks that sponsor, delivering meals to their homes, and trying to still keep it special, but you really have to get creative and make sure that folks are still able to donate if they want to. We are still very much encouraging tours of the Dove House because a lot of it just makes so much more sense when you see it in person. But the hardest thing for us I think, were I think as some other nonprofits kind of stayed, as far as their clientele, kind of stayed the same, but their funding went down. For us in this field, when kids were home, what we knew and everybody’s concern kind of going into like COVID and kids not being at school, you know, school reporters are one of our number one sources for reports. And so, when kids were at home, and people weren’t having a second set of eyes on them, we didn’t see as many reports coming in. And so, we knew, number one, there’s additional stressors at home. Kids were not, you know, turning their cameras on, even for classes. And so, if things were happening, we knew we weren’t going to get those reports. And so, once things kind of went back into person, we knew we were going to get a huge influx of kids and reports coming in. So, we have seen that, and we have been very, very busy, which is unfortunate. And in some of these cases, I think are going to take years from kids that were at home, to actually come out. Because what we know, is unlike adults, children take years usually to disclose, for many reasons, if something has happened to them. So, we know that’s gonna kind of come down the road. But for us, our cases, our caseload went up and our funding was going down. And so that was really difficult. I think Dove House is very well established in this community and has a lot of strong followers. But, you know, we even have seen with the great resignation boom, that lots of people have resigned or moved. And so, we are always looking for good board members, and fundraising development, and still just trying to stay on top of what our needs are here at Dove House.

Jeff
Absolutely, I appreciate you sharing that and kind of enlightening me and the listeners to, you know, the challenges that Dove House faces in this unique time as well. I’m not going to ask you to single out corporate partners, but I’m just curious, so you do receive grants, of course, as well, but rely heavily, of course on the community, both family donations, individuals, and corporate and business partners. What would you say is the ratio of individual donors to corporate donors? Like is that kind of a, can you give kind of a rough idea of how much engagement you get from those different types of donors?

Beth
So, probably similar to a lot of nonprofits, like when we have events, the sponsorships are a huge percentage of what we bring in from that event. And so, you know, I’d say probably 60 to 70% of what we bring in is mostly from our sponsorship. And then, you know, just individual donations certainly are a huge, huge component to that. And even, you know, I just always say, it’s never too small, you know, every single dollar. My family in Africa used to say, every drop fills the bucket. And that’s very true in the nonprofit world. Every, even if it’s small, every donation counts.

Jeff
Absolutely. I love that analogy. And I’m sure the organization is always open to new sponsorships. Is that, would you, I’m sure there are sponsorship opportunities available this year as well?

Beth
Absolutely, absolutely. So, for our events, certainly, there are new sponsorships available. And if anybody is interested, they can call me directly. And I’d be happy to help with that. And we can kind of talk through what are the different options and hopefully, you know, our normal calendar, we’ve had to reschedule our event a few times, so hopefully, our normal schedule will resume next year. But we’re just really happy to, you know, barring anything crazy, that we’ll have The Evening for Dove House in person this year. So, if anybody is interested in sponsoring that, you know, they can definitely reach out. We would love to talk with them.

Jeff
Good. Yeah. June this year does look promising. Fingers crossed, of course. But yeah, looks, so far it looks good. You mentioned something about tours of Dove House. When is, how can folks learn more about obtaining a tour? And when do you usually conduct those?

Beth
So, we are actually working on kind of blocking out some time once a month on our schedule that people can sign up for those tours, so we will put that on our website. But right now, they can just call or email me directly here at the Dove House and we can definitely get that set up for anyone. We have, like some school system employees coming this week to take a tour. And any folks, it just, it really does make a lot more sense and you get that sense of comfort when you’re here and it just, I think really tugs at your heartstrings. When you see, you know, when you think about a child that has dealt with sexual abuse and what they must be feeling and thinking and how scary it is for everybody involved. And so, just to kind of have that ease, and to really think about what these children would experience. Because what we know is years ago, you know, before child advocacy centers existed, children would tell like a friend at school, and then they’d have to tell their teacher, and then their principal, and then the social worker, and then law enforcement, and it would go on and on until they testified in court. And so, this process really streamlines all of that and reduces, because we know every time a child has to tell their story, it adds trauma. And so, seeing kind of how it’s recorded, and our law enforcement and DSS come to the interview, and they sit in a separate room, and they watch from a closed-circuit TV, and so again, our interviewer is the only person working with that child. But to kind of like see that process and how it works when the child is here is really amazing.

Jeff
I’ll follow up with you, for sure, I would love to connect with you for a tour sometime. And we’ll kind of pick a time when it’s quiet there. And maybe we could shoot some, a little bit of video footage, and some photos to share with our audience as well of some of the facility.

Beth
Awesome, that would be great.

Jeff
That would be really cool. So, I’ll follow up with you for sure.

Beth
Okay.

Jeff
Where is Dove House located?

Beth
We are right on Simonton Road, here in Statesville. It’s 2407 Simonton Road. And we’re kinda like set off, we’re near, Hospice House is here. And so, it’s very quiet, and it’s very calm, but it’s not like in the center of everything. We don’t really want to be highly visible. And so, our families kind of come in and park off to the side and come in, because we want them to have privacy as well when they’re going through this.

Jeff
Absolutely. Yeah, that makes total sense. And of course, I’ll have the address in the show notes as well, so that listeners can have that information and links, of course. How can listeners get involved? Are their volunteer opportunities? Of course, they can make a financial contribution, which I would encourage them to consider, and businesses and corporations, there are sponsorship opportunities as well. Are there volunteer opportunities?

Beth
Yes. So, our needs are, kind of the interesting thing about what we do, there are some things that are always in need. Like for example, we are in need of gas cards for families to get to and from therapeutic appointments. And then like prepackaged snacks and drinks. Through COVID, we usually, from what I hear from the staff, they always had a huge kind of stock of that. And then that has dwindled drastically. And so, prepackaged snacks are always a great way to donate for kids. And then really our needs are kind of ever changing. And so, the best thing is just to reach out via email or phone, and we can always kind of share what our immediate needs are. And then folks can kind of help us meet those immediate needs, which is really the best thing.

Jeff
That makes sense, yeah. So, a listener that wanted to perhaps help purchase some supplies or make donations, best thing to do is call or email to kind of check in with you to see what the current need is, because needs do change, as you said.

Beth
Absolutely.

Jeff
And you can also help with instructing on the best places to get the gas cards or, you know, the best types to purchase so that they’re easy to use.

Beth
And we do occasionally have, you know, on-site needs that folks if they, you know, they maybe can’t afford to help with one area, like financially, but they want to help, you know, physically, there are needs that pop up. And so, we can kind of, our secretary on our board kind of manages a volunteer database and so people can get added to that. And then as needs arise, we just kind of let those folks now.

Jeff
Excellent. Yeah, very good. Well, I would encourage listeners to reach out first, definitely connect with you first and kind of get an idea of where the needs are at the time. And as you said, there are volunteer opportunities as well. So, if making a financial contribution isn’t in your wheelhouse right now, there are other ways that you can help and contribute.

Beth
Absolutely.

Jeff
Okay, cool. So, I will have those links in the show notes, of course, and the phone number as well, address for Dove House, and all the ways that listeners can get in touch and learn more about Dove House and get involved. Beth, I know you’re super busy, I really appreciate you taking the time to share a little bit of the story of Dove House with our audience, and I hope that by joining us, we’re able to bring you some value in the team at Dove House. And I look forward to following up with you as well, to get a tour and to learn more in person.

Beth
That sounds wonderful, we are so grateful for your time. And I think, you know, anything that brings awareness for, I mean, what we consider is a pandemic. And we’ve got a team of folks that, you know, literally run to the darkest corners of the world to deal with these cases. And they’re not easy cases to work. And so, you know, a team with super-stressed folks, you know, that are dealing with burnout, and all kinds of things, and they do a wonderful job to be superheroes for these kids. So, we appreciate the opportunity to spread that awareness.

Jeff
Absolutely. That’s really well said. Beth McKeithan, Executive Director at Dove House. Beth, thank you again for joining the podcast.

Beth
Thank you, Jeff.

Jeff
Thanks again so much to Beth McKeithan and Dove House Children’s Advocacy Center for joining the podcast. Friends, you can learn more about Dove House online at dovehousecac.org. I would encourage you to consider a gift to Dove House when considering charitable donations this year. Dove House is celebrating their 20th year of service to the community this year, and you can join them in celebrating this milestone by donating $20 for 20 years of service. I’ll have all those links in the show notes for this episode. As always, you can find the complete show notes for all of our episodes at the home for Lake Norman’s number one small business podcast and online resource www.thebestoflkn.com. Thanks again to our sponsors for making the work we do here at The Best of LKN possible. You can find links to these fine local businesses on our homepage or in the show notes for this episode. To stay up to date on The Best of LKN and be the first to know about our latest podcast episodes and written articles, please consider signing up for our weekly email newsletter. It’s free, easy to sign up, and a great way to show some support for the work we’re doing here at The Best of LKN. You can find the form on our homepage at thebestoflkn.com. Thanks again for joining us and following along on our journey here at The Best of LKN. We’ll be back next week with another episode, same time, same place. So until then, cheers Lake Norman. Bye for now.

Narrator
We hope you’ve enjoyed this episode of The Best of LKN. For more information about this podcast, show notes, video episodes, and links to our featured businesses, please visit www.thebestoflkn.com. We publish episodes weekly, so be sure to subscribe and stay up to date. Until next time, cheers Lake Norman.