Keeping Hope ALIVE in Franklin County - The Missourian: Features People

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Keeping Hope ALIVE in Franklin County

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Posted: Wednesday, July 3, 2013 6:32 pm

Cathy Covington has been involved with ALIVE since the organization took root in Franklin County.

Today she is the crisis intervention specialist/court advocate with ALIVE (Alternatives to Living in Violent Environments).

Covington, 63, has worked in domestic violence shelters in the past, was looking for similar work shortly after moving to Franklin County in 1999.

“I was trying to find a position with a domestic violence agency,” she said.

That led her to see a speaker East Central College, who was then the director of the St. Louis ALIVE.

“I asked her if she ever thought of opening an office in Franklin County,” Covington remembers.

The director said that there were no plans, but instructed Covington to send in a resume. She was contacted six weeks later.

Covington then took over at the location of the Family Violence Coalition in Washington.

It was long afterward that she relocated the ALIVE office to Union.

“I thought it was important to be in the Franklin County seat,” Covington said.

The office was in a different location when it first moved to Union, and the location is not made public for the safety of the clients.

And safety is a main goal of ALIVE.

“To provide safety and peace one family at a time,” Covington said about the goal of ALIVE.

“I’d like to not be sitting here today,” she added. “I’d like to eradicate abuse so people are safe in their homes, but that is not the reality at this point.”

Since the office in Franklin County opened, ALIVE has grown.

“I can remember when we first opened in 1999,” she said. “It was quiet at first, but then the phone started ringing.”

Covington explained that she worked to get the word out about ALIVE through speaking engagements at churches, high schools and civic organizations.

The agency also won a 2001 Mercy Award.

“That really opened a lot of doors for us,” Covington said.

At that time she was the only employee who worked strictly in the Union office. A counselor from St. Louis assisted at the office.

Today there are three counselors — two part time, and one full time, and Covington — working from the office in Union.

Covington wears many hats. She answers crisis phone calls, takes the initial victim information and is the spokesperson for ALIVE in the community.

She also is a court advocate for domestic violence victims.

“I am in court a lot,” she said. “I feel it is my second home.”

ALIVE offers several services to victims of domestic violence, including the “Nights of Safety” program, which provides short-term emergency sanctuary and transportation to victims 24 hours a day, every day.

Other services provided by ALIVE include individual and group adult counseling and children’s treatment program.

Covington noted that most victims are women, but about 15 percent of the domestic violence victims are men. She added that victims are often called survivors.

“The fact that they are standing up straight makes them survivors — by using every tool they have,” she said. “Until someone walks in the shoes of a battered woman, they won’t know what it’s like.”

Outside of ALIVE

Cathy and Don Covington have four children and 11 grandchildren. Another grandchild is on the way.

Don is a part-time pastor at New Haven United Methodist Church where Cathy teaches Sunday School.

She noted that being the wife of a pastor also requires her to wear many hats, but it is something she enjoys.

“I have always been a Sunday School teacher,” Covington said. “I also love to sing in the choir.”

She has been working with members of the small church for more community outreach, and to have “a place in the community.”

Covington is serving as the Southwest regional director of the Business Women of Missouri (BWM).

In 2005 she earned an associate’s degree from East Central College, and later she received a bachelor’s degree in organizational management from Ashford University.

The Three Rivers BWM was chartered in 2008, and Covington has served as president for two years.

“They are very good about supporting ALIVE,” she said. “One of its goals is supporting women in abusive relationships.”

Covington was named the Franklin County Service Providers member of the year for 2013.

“It is very humbling for them to have given that to me,” she said.

As a hobby, Covington collects angel figurines.

“I really think we do have angels,” she said. “I am always looking for angels that are different and unique.”

And to some, Covington may seem like an angel.

“I really have a passion for this work,” Covington said. “People are hurting and they need someone to talk to — they can’t be helped if there is nobody to talk to.

“We want to break that cycle so we can live a life free of abuse,” she said.

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