Madison County Magic

Non-profit nominees make our little corner of the world a better place

By Kyle Morey | 3.1.14

They are there to comfort the abused and take care of the neglected. They are there when substance abuse rears its ugly head and threatens to ruin precious lives. They are there when women and children face difficult home environments.

Madison County is a much better place because they are there.

CASA, Dove Harbor and Aspire Indiana collectively help hundreds in Madison County with their program outreach and compassionate staff members. Each is a nominee for this year’s Non-Profit Organization of the Year award.

Developed with guidance and criteria established by the United Way of Madison County, this award honors a non-profit agency that excels in making a strong positive contribution to the community. The winner will be the one which:

  • Has the most positive community impact
  • Demonstrates accountable business practices and an engaged board with strong leadership
  • Puts into action partnership and collaboration

The award will be presented at the upcoming Madison County Chamber of Commerce Annual Awards Gala, scheduled from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Madison Park Church of God in Anderson.

Here is a brief look at each award recipient.



CASA Director, Annette Craycraft | Photo by Dale Pickett


Annette E. Craycraft, a daughter of former Indiana State Rep. Allie Craycraft, says her employer may very well be Madison County’s best-kept secret. But for nearly 500 Madison County children, the Court Appointed Special Advocate Program is vital.

“We are the voice in the courts for children who are abused or neglected, children who enter the children welfare program through no fault of their own,” she said.

A native of Delaware County, Craycraft worked for two former governors – Gov. Frank O’Bannon and Gov. Joe Kernan. Even though she works largely behind the scenes and away from the headlines, Craycraft’s current job, however, has provided some of the most important work she’s ever done.

“It’s a way to give back to the community and help the most vulnerable among us,” Craycraft said. “We see sexual abuse, physical abuse, educational or medical neglect, sheer neglect, homes with unhealthy living conditions,” she said. “The majority are just neglect cases in our community. There’s been a change in demographics due to the economy and we’re seeing more families struggle. Many have to make tough choices and aren’t able to provide medical care or supervision.”

Craycraft emphasizes the award nomination wouldn’t have been possible without the work of a dedicated and growing team of volunteers that now numbers nearly 100, two-third of which come from Madison County.

“It’s a very stressful job,” Craycraft said. “You are going into homes with difficult environments, children who have suffered greatly. It can be taxing on the volunteers. I don’t think people understand how hard they work.

“I’m really proud of our staff and the volunteers,” Craycraft continued. “We have a great staff that works hard in the trenches. Our budget has tripled since we started and our services continue to grow.”



Dove Harbor's Deanna Zimmer and Doug Linville | Photo by Dale Pickett


“But the dove could find no place to set its feet because there was water over all the surface of the earth; so it returned to Noah in the ark. He reached out his hand and took the dove and brought it back to himself in the ark.”

That is the Genesis scripture Dove Harbor uses to represent its program, which has provided a safe haven and healthy home for more than 300 women and children who found themselves in crisis situations last year. Dove Harbor is a Christian program that uses grace, mercy and accountability to lead women forward into independent, healthy living.

The vision for Dove Harbor began when Kerrin Kahaleh and Susan Thomas became aware of the desperate need for transitional housing to welcome women and their children who wanted to leave unhealthy relationships and unsafe homes. These women and children needed a safe harbor in which to stay that would nurture healing and growth until they became strong, stable, and ready to thrive on their own.

Kerrin and Susan began sharing their dream with their home church, North Anderson Church of God (now Madison Park Church of God). Soon, they were joined by Susan Hall. The trio prayed, seeking God´s direction, and then began meeting with church leadership and local social service professionals. Their vision came together in the concept of a program that would meet the women´s needs by combining the fundamental truths of the Bible with professional social work practices.

“Like Noah, Dove Harbor reaches out to women who are not on solid ground and brings them into an ark of safety to rest, to find healing and wholeness and to prepare for a healthy, happy future,” Dove Harbor’s website says.



Aspire Indiana's Richard DeHaven | Photo by Dale Pickett


Aspire Indiana is one of the nominees for the Madison County Chamber Non-Profit Award.

The organization is a non-profit comprehensive mental health center serving Central Indiana. It provides substance abuse treatment, HIV care, employment and housing assistance as well as behavioral health services to at-risk populations

Featuring the only facility in Indiana which has a group home for those who are deaf and have a serious mental illness, Aspire serves about 11,000 clients, nearly one-third of which come from Madison County

Aspire’s clients range from the very young to senior citizens. It was formed by the 2009 merger of two mental health centers – the Madison County Center for Mental Health and Behavior Corp. of Indianapolis.


View past award winners on our WALL OF FAME.



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