Lake Norman & Mooresville

Lunch honors ‘Ordinary Heroes’ in the community

The fifth annual Children’s Voice Luncheon on Oct. 20 will offer a chance to learn about Dove House and the role the organization plays in the community as well as raise funds to help continue its work.

The theme of this year’s free luncheon, “Ordinary Heroes,” honors all of the agencies as well as the volunteers.

Dove House Children’s Advocacy Center opened its doors in Statesville in September 2002 to receive and help child victims of sexual abuse and their non-offending family members by working to minimize trauma, offer a safe facility and provide therapies or other resources.

Ken Wooten, executive director of Dove House, said the luncheon is to honor and thank the everyday heroes who work to keep the community safe. That includes volunteers at such agencies as Dove House as well as police, first responders and others.

For 13 years, Dove House has helped countless community members and will continue to do so because, Wooten said, sexual abuse occurs at an alarming rate, both in Iredell county and nationwide.

Dove House serves about 200 children and their families per year, Wooten said. But only an estimated quarter of abused children feel safe coming forward with their stories, he said, which means that another 600 children in Iredell county could be affected by sexual abuse and are not telling their stories.

He wants to see that changed, and the way to do so is by getting the word out, he said. “We are a safe haven for children when they are ready, to let them know it’s OK. Part of the healing process is to be able to tell,” Wooten said.

The luncheon is open to the public, and 500 attendees are expected. It is free and table captains are still needed. A table captain is required to fill a table with themselves and seven other people, Wooten said.

The lunch is funded by sponsors, and donations for Dove House are accepted during the event.

Last year, the lunch raised a little more than $40,000, and Dove House officials hope to raise more than $50,000 this year.

“Any one of us can be hero by making a difference in someone’s life. You can help change someone’s life in a positive direction. Anybody can step up and do what is right for children whether time or money, it could make a difference,” Wooten said.

Tim Goff, board chairman for Dove House, said this event is one of three fundraisers for the year, but is unique because it allows anyone to come by on their lunch break to learn about their work and hear their message.

“It is a never-ending stream of broken hearts and broken families. Dove House is so important because it gives families a place to go and serves a great purpose. No one using our services ever pays a penny,” Goff said.

Dove House’s work starts with local law enforcement and the district attorney’s office. The work is then passed on to the staff and volunteers who all work very hard, he said, and it can be emotional and trying at times.

“The luncheon is a great opportunity to reach out to people we can’t reach otherwise due to timing,” Goff said.

“There are a lot of ordinary heroes. This is a chance to hear what is going on in our community and what is being done about it. We all need to think about it and watch what’s going on.”

Rachel Daniels is a freelance writer:

Want to go?

The fifth annual Children’s Voice Luncheon will be held 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. Oct. 20 at The Cove Church, 197 Langtree Road, Mooresville. Lunch is free. Reservations required. Table captains are needed. Call Dove House at 704-883-9814.