Be the Light: An Evening for Dove House

“The return to Innocence” by Aimee Perry.  photographed by STEPHANIE WISEMAN PHOTOGRAPHY

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, a time when child wellness and child welfare organizations across the United States bring awareness to the importance of creating programs that put children and families first to prevent child abuse. We always think that bad things happen “elsewhere” and not where we live, but child sexual abuse is a growing epidemic that is happening right in our own backyards. One such local organization striving to bring change right here in our communities is Dove House Children’s Advocacy Center. Dove House is designed to minimize the trauma that children and their non-offending family members can suffer during the investigation and intervention process. They receive, on average, four new cases of child sexual abuse every week from Iredell and Alexander Counties – quite a sobering statistic. However, it’s incredibly important to be aware that while four new cases come in every week, statistically, there are many more that go unreported. 

Previously, when a child would report sexual abuse, the ensuing steps of talking to their teacher, principal, school nurse, police officers, hospital nurses, doctors, counselors and lawyers and going to each of their offices only served to re-traumatize the child, despite the best efforts of each organization. Dove House creates a space where each of those agencies comes to the child, instead of the other way around. Located in Statesville, Dove House looks and feels like a home with toys, a library, comfortable furniture and cozy spaces designed to help victims feel safe. As a result of the creation of Dove House, the District Attorney’s office has successfully prosecuted 85-90% of cases of child sexual abuse since 2003. Prior to the existence of Dove House, only 20% of cases were successfully prosecuted. Dove House continues to make a tremendous impact on the prosecution rate of perpetrators of abuse. Successful prosecution of perpetrators is key in protecting other children from becoming victims of abuse themselves.

As a 501(c)(3) organization, Dove House Children’s Advocacy Center relies heavily on individual and corporate donations as well as one annual fundraiser. Every year, in April, Dove House hosts a gala called “An Evening for Dove House.” This event generates half of the annual budget that Dove House needs to operate. Hosted at the Charles Mack Citizen Center in downtown Mooresville, each year, this event has grown and allowed Dove House to help more and more children who have suffered sexual abuse. This year’s theme is “Be the Light” and is taking place on April 20th.  

Over the past 22 years of hosting this event, Dove House has had many incredible sponsors. This year, Big Beverages Contract Manufacturing is the title sponsor at the Heal level. The Goff family has been a friend and supporter of Dove House for many years, and Dove House is thrilled to have them as their sole title sponsor this year! Several businesses donated at the Hope level, including Corvid Technologies, G. Campbell Construction, Giving with Grace Foundation, Lowe’s Corporation, Sloop Farm, Walmart and Tacc, Inc. Quite a few other sponsors donated at the Advocacy, Protect and Compassion levels. Many local businesses have donated money, items for the live and silent auctions, as well as their time and effort into making this event spectacular. This event could not happen without them, and everyone at Dove House is so thankful for the outpouring of community support.

A unique aspect of this gala is the number of artists who are giving their time and talent to bringing light and beauty to this event. Artists such as Aimee Perry, Pam White, Elijah Kell, Sandra Gittleman, Melissa Herriott, Christopher McIntosh and others have generously created beautiful works of art to be auctioned off at the gala. Many of these artists have come to Dove House through the owners of a local art gallery, Juelerye Artisan Gallery and Gifts, in downtown Mooresville. Aimee Perry created “The Return to Innocence” an exceptional work of art painted on a wedding dress. Perry found the dress at a thrift store and was encouraged by one of the employees there to paint it. The mediums used include spray paint, acrylic liquid and real gold leaf to create this one-of-a-kind, magnificent dress. In the artist’s words, “As I added birds to the design, I found myself reflecting on innocence, feeling the power of curiosity awaken, alongside the wonder and freedom of childhood boldness. Inspired by this boldness, I named the dress ‘The Return to Innocence.’ It was during this moment of meditation that I decided to donate the dress to Dove House, an organization that works tirelessly to support children who have endured unspeakable trauma. Their efforts in returning pieces of innocence to these children made the act of creating this dress even more meaningful to me.”

Pam White is another artist that will be featured at the gala, as she will be painting live at the event. White is an encaustic wax artist creating her interpretation of nature using beeswax, resin and pigment. Her encaustic works made with beeswax and fire create texture and translucency that cannot be duplicated in other mediums. Looking at her art, you can feel the spirit of nature coursing through you – waves crashing on the beach, cool breezes ruffling Spanish Moss off of old oak trees and storms rolling over the marsh grasses. White’s process will be a remarkable experience for this year’s gala guests.

Along with all the incredible donors and artists, “An Evening for Dove House” will feature 15 local restaurants as well as other amazing dessert vendors, a DJ, dancing, silent auction and a dynamic live auction emceed by the one-and-only Larry Sprinkle. One of the items being featured in the live auction, graciously donated by Donald Haack Diamonds of Charlotte, is a hinged cuff bracelet made of solid 18-karat white gold with 84 natural diamonds (a retail value of $5,800). Other live auction donors include a Charleston fishing excursion, furniture by Sweet Dreams Furniture & Mattress and LKN Patio & Game Rooms, Sloop Farm event center, a weekend getaway in the mountains, Tim “The Brew Chef” Schafer with Side Car Provisions in-home chef experience, Kell Glass, Big Oh! Balloons and many other wonderful items and experiences. 

Donations of items for both the silent and live auctions are still very much needed; if you have an item, service or experience to donate, please contact Director of Development Amy Stevens at Dove House anticipates bidding on items in the silent auction will begin a week prior to the event. Use the following website to begin bidding on April 13th: If you are interested in a preview of the live auction packages, please contact Amy Stevens to place proxy bids if you are unable to attend. Additionally, Dove House is still looking for volunteers for event set up on Friday, April 19th from 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. and working the event on Saturday, April 20th from 3:30 p.m. – 11:00 p.m. This year’s “An Evening for Dove House” is sold out! Anyone who would like to join the waitlist as seats become available can reach out to Amy Stevens as well. This is sure to be a marvelous event that will benefit children in crisis and the Iredell County community at large. 


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