Pekin fish fry benefits Center for Prevention of Abuse

By Holly Eitenmiller For Chronicle Media

The Center for Prevention of Abuse in Peoria will host its annual fish fry at the Pekin Moose Lodge to benefit Carol House on Friday, Oct. 4. (Photo courtesy of CFPA)


It was the early 1980s, and Carol Wright was young and had a promising future — a future cut short.  In 1982, as she was killed in a terrible car accident in California.

When her father Dr. Nelson Wright retired, he donated the house he ran his Pekin practice from to the Center for Prevention of Abuse. He dedicated it to her memory, and the Carol House of Hope became a haven for women and children seeking shelter from domestic violence and abuse.

After much planning and preparation on July 13, 2011, CFPA welcomed the shelter as a second emergency location. Carol House of Hope residents are eligible for all CFPA services, which greatly expands the resources available to residents of Tazewell and Woodford counties.

Dr. Nelson and Barbara Wright and Dr. Robert and Gwen Wright remain strong financial contributors and supporters of the Carol House of Hope and the mission of CFPA.

“The tragic loss of Carol Wright was able to provide a glimmer of hope for women and children in need of safety,” Carol Merna, CFPA chief executive officer, said.

On Friday, Oct. 4, CFPA will host its annual fish fry at the Pekin Moose Lodge to benefit Carol House. They will serve fish, fries and coleslaw, hold a silent auction and offer kids hot dogs and fries. It’s a simple meal that offers a healthy serving of assistance to the women and children that CFPA helps.

At Carol House, and at the CFPA shelter in Peoria, residents are provided with a full kitchen stocked with healthy meals and snacks, clean beds and cribs, laundry facilities, shower rooms and bathtubs for the little ones. A CFPA counselor is on hand at all times to offer help and coordinate resident groups.

The shelters are safe houses, and the locations are kept secret. Cameras keep watch over entrances, though residents are free to live their daily lives, restricted only by loose curfews. Their doors are open, however, night or day to anyone seeking refuge from domestic violence and abuse.

“The annual budget is roughly $6 million, which allows us to operate six facilities, employ approximately 120 staff and care for nearly 6,000 people annually with free and confidential services,” Merna said. “We also provide prevention education to more than 35,000 students.”

CFPA staff are well-educated. The majority of them have at least an undergraduate degree, she said, and are expected to qualify for their positions in matters of domestic violence, human trafficking and elder abuse.

Ten licensed masters-level therapists care for abuse survivors of all ages.

All staff and direct-service CFPA volunteers are required to complete a 63.5-hour agency training on Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault Advocacy and Elder Abuse. They are also trained on the requirements of mandated reporting and confidentiality.

And yet, there’s more. Those who reach out for help from CFPA are also guided through court proceedings on Emergency Orders of Protection and offered a comprehensive list of resources that includes free legal help, emergency housing and transportation assistance and guidance in applying for food and health care assistance.

The arm of CFPA reaches all areas where the vulnerable victims of domestic and sexual abuses cannot reach. Those familiar with the CFPA’s annual Duck Races know that the thousands of plastic yellow rubber duckies rushing merrily down the ramp symbolize hope for thousands of people.

On any given day, there are usually around 36 guests at the CFPA shelter in Peoria, and 16 at Carol House in Pekin, women, children and elderly seeking protection from others who aim to cause them harm, in one way or another.Pekin


The fish fry at the Moose Lodge is just one way that CFPA manages to keep the dollars flowing in to help fund the services that save lives and provide healing to damaged lives. It begins at 5 p.m. at the lodge’s 2605 Broadway St. location. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for kids.

For more information on the fundraiser, visit the CFPA Facebook page and select “Events.” For more information on CFPA, visit