CLINTON — There is a new shop in downtown Clinton.
The Dove House has opened a thrift store and outreach office at 363 Main St., right across the street from the Clinton Water Department.
Proceeds from the store will benefit the efforts of the Dove House to help victims of domestic violence.
“This is a Dove House project,” said Pat Cullum, program director. “We are still a fledgling business. We opened Oct. 5, 2013.
“One of our purposes in opening the store and outreach office is to get a public spot. Domestic violence is not a warm and fuzzy subject. People don’t want to talk about it.
“We hope people from the community will come in and see what we have to offer. We also hope they will donate items to the store. So far, the community has been very generous.”
Cullum said she also hopes people who are in abusive situations will come in and talk to her or other trained advocates.
“Maybe someone will come in to pay the water bill and see us across the street,” she said. “Maybe they will feel it’s safe to come and talk to us here in this public space.”
Cullum said the Dove House has been in existence for 25 years, but that times are tough for finding financial support.
“Everybody is struggling for the same dollars,” she said. “We had to find a source for funding.
“We did some research on successful programs and found that a thrift store is a good way to raise money for programs such as ours. Plus, it puts you in the public eye for people to see.”
Cullum said the nonprofit 501(c) 3 organization serves between 60 and 70 clients a year.
“And it’s not all women and children,” she said. “Gentlemen can find themselves in abusive situations as well.
“We do have our own shelter, but it is not open at this time. We outsource our ladies, or gentlemen, to surrounding shelters. It’s not safe for them here. Since we are such a small town, it would be easy to find someone. We counsel with them and see what their needs are and send them to other shelters.”
Cullum said the Dove House also receives calls from homeless people and those who have lost their homes as a result of fire.
“We are here to serve, so we try to help them as best we can,” she said.
Cullum said the Dove House works closely with the Clinton Police Department and the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office.
“Our goal is to get the clients before they get into the judicial system,” Cullum said. “We counsel them and try to empower them to make smart decisions. We try to help them find jobs. We want to get them into situations where they will be successful.”
She said the sheriff’s office keeps track of domestic-violence situations.
“They have about 200 calls a year in this little town of about 3,000,” she said. “A lot of people have lost their jobs here. That is a major stressor and can cause problems.”
The Dove House is a member of the Arkansas Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
“They offer a lot of training,” Cullum said. “They train our staff, our board of directors and our advocates. There is a lot we have to know. We don’t want to put our clients in any danger.
“We want them to know they do not have to go through this alone. We do orders of protection and offer legal aid and court advocacy as well.
“However, being in the public spotlight can bring challenges and some danger. We sometimes wonder who is coming in the door. There are disadvantages, as well as advantages, to being part of a small town.”
Cullum added, “None of us had any experience in running a thrift shop. People in the community would come in and offer us advice.”
Cullum said the thrift shop is already running out of room.
“This is a 4,000-square-foot building, and we have already had to expand in the back,” she said.
The Dove House Thrift Store accepts just about everything except electronics.
“We like to recycle,” Cullum said. “If we get something we can’t use, we send it somewhere that it can be used or recycled.”
The thrift store is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
“Our outreach office is always open,” she said. “Domestic violence does not take a vacation. If we don’t answer, just leave a message, and someone will get back to you.”
Cullum said the Dove House is in need of volunteers to help in the thrift store and the office.
“Donations are always needed and welcome,” she said. “Clothing, books, housewares, crafts, jewelry and furniture are things we need in the store.”
For more information, call (501) 745-5657 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.