Everyday Hero: Diane Silman - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Everyday Hero: Diane Silman

DONIPHAN, MO (KFVS) -

An underserved part of the Doniphan population has one woman to thank for championing their cause.

Survivors of domestic abuse and parents struggling to provide for their family were once left with few resources.

But one woman with a background in counseling saw a need and is changing the lives of children and adults who may have nowhere else to turn.

Diane Silman has been helping people cope with personal hardships for a long time.

“I love this," said Diane. "I love what I do. And it’s very motivating.”

During her 15 years as a social worker she saw women who had been abused but had no safe place to go.

So some would live in their car or even under a bridge.

“I kinda got to thinking 'well we should have a shelter here' and honestly God just kind of led me to go ahead and go forward with that. Because I knew just on my own I couldn’t do that," said Diane.

It took 5 years to bring that idea to life.

Those years were consumed with research, fund raising, applying to grants and just gaining an understanding of how to open a shelter from the ground up.

But she accomplished it, with the Crisis Shelter opening its door in 2003.

“It was just 2 programs and a dream she made a reality that has turned into 4 big programs that serve a regional area," said Kristi Patterson.

Kristi Patterson is the program director for the Child Advocacy Center, also spearheaded by Diane and housed in the same building as the shelter.

“She has a heart bigger than Texas," said Kristi.

So on one side you have women living and gaining important life skills while getting back on their feet, and on the other, resources for children who have been abused.

“So this is the room where the interviewer and the child sit and it is recorded," Diane explained.

It creates a safe environment and support system with the help of service dogs like Simon and Blue, an addition also researched and implemented by Diane.

All this work acts as therapy for Diane as well.

“Focusing on helping other people keeps me from being too distracted by my own circumstances that I’ve had to deal with.”

Diane and her husband care for their 13 year-old grandson who was diagnosed with cancer as a baby.

They travel to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital regularly for his treatments.

But she said they wouldn’t have it any other way.

“That’s part of life for us," she said matter-of-factly. "It’s wonderful. He inspires us. He also inspires other people in the community."

While Diane no longer works at the shelter, she continues her work at a counseling office in town and stops in a few times a week to work with the women staying here.

“It just literally is a journey," said Diane. "Step by step. Piece by piece. And it’s grown immensely. Clearly there is a need for what’s done here. It’s been absolutely amazing.”

If you know of an Everyday Hero in your life, please let us know.

Just click here to make your nomination.

We'll profile an Everyday Hero each month on Heartland News and all of our heroes will be honored at the annual Red Cross recognition luncheon.

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