History of Diane Peppler Resource Center
Who Was Diane Peppler?
Diane A. Peppler was instrumental in the funding of the Chippewa County Domestic Violence Program. She continued to give her support as a lawyer and board member. Diane was a warm, loving person who gave freely of herself to others. She touched all that knew her in a special way that will always be remembered. The Diane Peppler Resource Center, once called the Diane Peppler Shelter, was named in her honor.
The Diane Peppler Resource Center (DPRC) opened its doors to aid victims of domestic violence in 1979. This program became, and remains possible due to the dedication of many community members.
Two years before our doors opened, a task force composed of representatives from Law Enforcement, Social Workers, Attorneys, Professors, and members of both the Religious and Business Communities was formed in Chippewa County. These dedicated individuals spent many hours of looking for resources to help reduce domestic violence in our community. Two members of that group especially has touched the soul of our current existence. Diane Peppler whom we are named after, helped this project to become incorporated. Elizabeth Foley was also on the original task force and dedicated over 25 years of service to the Board of Directors.
The first funds were from a law enforcement grant. This money allowed victims up to three days at a local motel. This was a very temporary solution to a major problem. Within six months the task group received money through a governor appointed board, the Domestic Violence Prevention and Treatment Board.
In April of 1980, the DPRC Board hired their first Director of the newly formed corporation entitled the Chippewa County Domestic Violence Project. The Chippewa County Family Independence Agency offered, free of charge, office space. A shelter facility was located and furnished. Our first facility was the old orphanage Emma Nason Home.
Our shelter doors opened June of 1980. With the continued help of community donations, volunteers providing 24 hour crisis coverage and United Way funds we have been able to fully furnish our shelter home and offer crisis and support services.
Unfortunately, that first building was sold within six months. We were able to find a replacement facility on Spruce Street and The Veterans organization helped move the shelter. This home was small and in disrepair so in 1982, War Memorial Hospital arranged for us to assume the mortgage of a beautiful home that had been used for nurses. Donations made this move possible. This building was ideal as our program was growing. We were now able to expand bed space from 11 to 17 and have private counseling space to offer outreach services.
It did not take long before our neighboring communities were seeking our services. The Chippewa County Domestic Violence Program offered services to anyone in need. However, it was difficult for survivors of abuse who lived an hour away south and west of our facility to access our services. Funding through the Victims of Crime Act became available in 1986 and we opened outreach offices in Mackinac and Luce Counties that operated one day a week,. The offices were donated by the local Family Independence Agencies. In order to reflect our service area we changed our name to the Eastern Upper Peninsula Domestic Violence Program. Today, our outreach services have expanded and we provide staff full time in Newberry and in St.Ignace we have been able to acquire our own rental space that ensures confidentiality to our clientele that enters the premises.
In addition to offering domestic violence services in the tri-county area, the Prosecutor of Chippewa County, Pat Shannon, requested that our agency become the Rape Crisis Program. Our board believed this responsibility fit under our mission, which is to provide a violence free atmosphere in which survivors can recognize their options to have the opportunity to continue living violence free. In the beginning, services for sexual assault were covered completely by community donations. Today, several grants, donations and ongoing support through volunteers help support this program.
As our services expanded, this organization again searched for a new location that was large enough to support our goals. The Michigan State Housing Authority provided grant funds to renovate and expand our current location. This allowed us to have a 19 bed facility, private counseling space, a comfortable setting for our support groups, a play room for the children and a large living area for the families seeking temporary safety.
In addition to providing services to the adult victims of domestic violence, it became clear children also experience severe trauma in homes where abuse or neglect occurs. Our children’s programming services have been instrumental in helping children establish healthy ways of addressing emotional trauma and experiences.
We knew that reaching our youth was vital. With the collaborative efforts of local area schools, we continue to engage our youth through teen health fairs and classroom presentations.
Continuing with our youth education, we implemented a one-hour curriculum on dating violence. Big Brothers/Big Sisters and our program collaborated on a girls group that ran for several years to help high-risk teens develop assets that aid in a positive style of living. Referrals for this program come through our local schools. Our St Ignace location has an active boys and girls groups that focus on high risk youth. Our goal is to change attitudes about violence with the ultimate understanding that no violence is acceptable.
We are placing emphasis on ending violence in our society by using primary prevention interventions on the individual, relationship, community and eventually, the society level.
In 2003, the Federal Government initiated legislation called the Violence Against Women Act. With this available funding, local Law Enforcement, Court Personnel and Advocates from the Domestic Violence Program have created many collaborative efforts to better serve victims of domestic and sexual violence in the tri-county area.
Twenty years after the original program incorporated, it felt appropriate to change our name to better express the scope of our actual services. In memory of Diane Peppler, our organization changed its name to the Diane Peppler Resource Center. This name reflects the ambition of a strong woman whose vision was to stop the crime of violence that knows no boundaries or limitations on who it affects.
With the help and support of the community and dedicated volunteers, we continue to grow, Our Domestic Violence Project which served 16 families during its first year of operation, boasted a staff of one, and seven volunteers. The number of families served has increased exponentially, but our staff and volunteers are just as dedicated today as they were in 1979.