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An Amboy group reaches its target audience: Young people who want to hone their hunting skills

When it comes to creating art, a pair of Amboy business owners think outside – and inside – the box

ALSO INSIDE ... Better nature: The great outdoors in Lee County is getting even greater.

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Straight-A students An Amboy group reaches its target audience: Young people who want to hone their hunting skills.

Finding their inspiration When it comes to creating art, a pair of Amboy business owners think outside – and inside – the box.

Magazine Editors


Kathleen Schultz & Rusty Schrader Page Design Rusty Schrader

Health care on tap KSB app offers patients a portal to a place where they can take medical matters into their own hands.

Published by Sauk Valley Media 3200 E. Lincolnway Sterling, IL 61081 815-625-3600


Articles and advertisements are the property of Sauk Valley Media. No portion of Small Town Living Magazine may be reproduced without the written consent of the publisher. Ad content is not the responsibility of Sauk Valley Media. The information in this magazine is believed to be accurate; however, Sauk Valley Media cannot and does not guarantee its accuracy. Sauk Valley Media cannot and will not be held liable for the quality or performance of goods and services provided by advertisers listed in any portion of this magazine.

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Rosalie Koldan (left) and Shirley Guay, shown here in 2017, have been bringing art and antiques under one roof in their downtown shop, Amboy Arts & Antiques, for more than 10 years.

When it comes to creating art, a pair of local business owners think outside – and inside – the box

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right paintings and shadowboxed scenes on the walls give customers at Amboy Arts & Antiques their first idea that there’s something special about this store. While there’s something old inside the four walls, there’s something new on them – the owners’ artwork. Shirley Guay and Rosalie Koldan, both Chicago natives, have combines their antiques business with their passion for art. Their abilities are different branches of the same tree, but both feel strongly about their work. Both Guay and Koldan were born in the Chicago area and worked in Cook County, Koldan as a deputy sheriff and Guay as a public school art teacher. Buying property in Woodhaven Lakes in Sublette is what led them to this neck of the woods, and eventually to Amboy, where their shop has become a fixture downtown, offering art and antiques for more than a decade, and becoming a tourist attraction for summer campers. Continued on page 9

While recovering from surgery, Shirley Guay tried her hand at collages. She set a goal of doing 50 pieces, but ended up doing 100, many of which are for sale at the shop she co-owns, Amboy Art & Antiques. One of the works – bottom row, second from left – can be seen as either two birds or Darth Vader.

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Continued from page 7

Shirley Guay works on one of her pieces in her studio at 231 E. Main St. in Amboy that she shares with fellow artist Rosalie Koldan.

Rosalie tackles removing the lining in an old silverware case that she’ll use in a piece of her assemblage art, which uses everyday object and other pieces she finds to create her works of art.

Koldan didn’t learn her creative craft from a formal education; she’s an assemblage artist, working with found objects. Her first step was a yard sale book on Salvador Dali and a camera purchased by her mother, given to her at age 15. Discovering art by Brut, Naive and Outsider – people who worked outside of the rules – intrigued her. “Because of them, we now have a redefined role of art in our society,” she wrote in her resume. “Working strictly intuitively, they found ways to create art that is nontraditional and uninhibited. That is what I enjoy doing.” Koldan’s works tell stories with the objects she’s found – she can take an old piano tuner’s case that was beaten up and broken and give it new life as a piece of art. “There’s always a catalyst,” Koldan said, “whether it’s the box itself or an item that I pick up.” The pair even have a store full of inventory for inspiration and materials for art projects. “You know, I always say that if it doesn’t sell, I’ll use it in an art piece,” Koldan said during a 2017 interview. In one work, Koldan wanted to pay homage to the late poet-singer/songwriter-novelist Leonard Cohen. “I researched his life and I created things that were symbolic of important things in his life to sort of tell the story of Leonard Cohen and his writing, but it was a challenge because I’m trying to make words into a visual,” she said, “but I think I pulled it off, and in the process I fell in love with Leonard Cohen. He was a magnificent writer.” Koldan has been collecting found objects for 25 to 30 years. “I’ll sift through all of my objects until find something that I can use that will go with another object, even though they may not have been made to go together in one lifetime.” Sometimes Koldan’s work attracts customers’ attention in an unusual way. “They’re shopping for antiques and I’ve seen them actually try to grab something out of the boxes [used for Koldan’s artwork],” Guay said, “because they think it’s for sale and they want it.” Creativity and inspiration aren’t the only skills an artist like Koldan needs. You have to know how to glue, too. Guay said she’s seen works by others where you can see glue hanging out. Not so with Koldan’s work. “When you work with objects like this, they can’t fall apart,” Guay said. “You’re moving them. You want to make sure this piece isn’t going to fall off, so she has to be the specialist in how to adhere something so it’s going to hold, but at the same time, you don’t see glue marks, so I think that’s a skill.” Continued on page 10

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Continued from page 9

“I want this to last just as if you were buying a painting,” Koldan said. But if it is a painting a person’s looking for, that’s where Guay comes in. A painter, Guay attended Harold Washington College in Chicago. Locally, her works are in the permanent collection at Loveland Museum in Dixon. “What I find wonderful about creating art is that I am free to build, sculpt, paint and print, and let my imagination run wild,” she wrote in her resume. “I basically call myself an abstract realist,” she said. When she started painting, she’d do portraits, still lifes and landscapes, but she was beginning to feel bored. Then she turned to realism, combining nature with her desire to paint those traditional subjects. “And when I started doing it, I could feel that I was really making it my own,” Guay said. “I could say, ‘Yeah, I like that, I haven’t seen that before.’ This is truly an expression of how I see the world.” There’s another theme running through her work – stressing that people are connected not only to nature, but also to each other. “So in those paintings you’ll see animals. You’ll see different types of people: African-American, Asian, you can see European-Americans, all kinds of images,” she said. Her palette is one that’s rich in colors. She calls her subjects “rainbow people.” “I make people who are all colors,” Guay said. “And even when I’m doing that you can kind of see the ethnicity of the portrait, so basically that’s what I’m doing.” Guay said her work challenges people to really see what’s in front of them.

In a piece that echoes both its origins and the person who created it, Rosalie Koldan’s “The Gatherer” was made from things she hunted and gathered.

Continued on page 11

Some artists can take things that most people might see as having a limited shelf life and give them immortality, like the various pieces Rosalie Koldan used in her piece, “Immortal Wisdom.” She found objects, including a candle holder and fishing pole, to create something that captured her fascination with religion – in this case, Buddhism – and conveyed a sense of peace.

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“I said, ‘You know what? I’m going to call it Recuperation Discussing one of her works 100, so I did 100 collages, and we did some rehabilitation of that hangs on the shop’s walls, this room.” she pointed out how some people Then they had an art opening, and Guay sold 45 of her col“might see a face down at the lages. She sent 10 to a gallery in Chicago and donated two to left-hand side, [or] you can see an Pay-It-Forward House in Sycamore. animal coming up. You can see Koldan and Guay said in an email Pay-It-Forward is a healtha bird coming up from the botcare hospitality house established to provide a home-awaytom,” she said. from-home for family and friends of patients receiving medical While some might think that treatment. leaving a metro “It was a tremendous relief knowing Rosalie MORE area for a rural was close by and cared for while I was hospitalINFORMATION home would limit ized,” Guay said. Amboy Arts & Antiques: their audience, the Their generosity in sharing their passion for art 231 E. Main St., duo said there’s also has included donations to Sinnissippi Cen815-780-4880 been no shortage Hours: 10 a.m. to ters’ annual fundraiser. Sinnissippi is a commu5 p.m. Thursday of appreciation for nity-based behavioral healthcare center serving through Monday. their work. Carroll, Lee, Ogle and Whiteside counties. Online: On Facebook. “Since coming Looking around the shop, Guay said, “This out here I’ve gotis our passion. Artist Georgia O’Keeffe painted. She’s always ten a lot of collectors, which been an inspiration to me. When she turned 90, she started to makes me really happy,” Guay go blind, so she started making pots, working in clay. If somesaid. “I’ll go to Dixon and I’ll have people say, ‘I got one. I got thing’s not working, you just keep on doing, but you maybe one. I’ve got some of your artwork,’ and it kind of validates my have to move to a different media, or maybe it will take you a existence on the planet to see people doing things like that.” lot longer to finish a painting than if everything was working. Recently, Guay had surgery on her hand and has had to The gift is to know that you can still get up and do it. It may battle tremors in it. In doing so, she learned she could control be different, but you’re still doing it. When I can’t move, well, an X-Acto knife, so she decided to do 50 collages, calling it her I’ll write a book. Just talking to the tape recorder and write a Recuperation Series. She thought it was fun and that 50 soon book. That’s what I find so wonderful about delving into that became more. creative world that you can live like that.” n Continued from page 10

Shirley Guay says that many of her works, done in acrylics, usually feature a picture within a picture, like this piece: “My Brother’s Keeper.”





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Caleb Withers, 7, keeps an eye on the sky with Kevin Loebach at their hunting spot.


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Working by flashlight, the hunting party sets up at 6 a.m., unloading and setting up the blinds and decoys.


aking up before dawn and laying out in the middle of a wet and windy countryside hoping to bag a couple of geese – that’s a welcome combination for a group that works to teach young hunters and promote the outdoors. Those a part of the Adventures of Backwoods Brock and the A-Team want to share their knowledge and love for hunting and fishing with those who don’t have the means or resources to do so regularly. Group founder Brock Decker and his A-Team of hunters headed south of Amboy on a Sunday earlier this year with two new faces – Jeffery Stanish, 16, and Caleb Withers, 7 – to take them on a goose hunt. Continued on page 15

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Stanish, of Crystal Lake, started hunting when he was 12, mostly setting his sights on pheasant or deer, and wanted to expand to geese. He caught the hunting bug from his mom, Kay Stanish, 41, who has hunted most of her life. Withers, of Chana, had only begun his time behind the barrel and shot his first gun with the group. “He’s only shot a BB gun and then a bow when he attended the group’s fishing derby,” Caleb’s mom, Tori Withers, said. Location, decoy placement and bird calling were all part of the goose hunting lesson. They also learned to set up blinds before the birds took their morning flight. “The geese will fly for about 2 hours from pond to pond and sometimes make a stop in a cornfield to feed,” Decker said. “The trick is getting them to land.” They use an arsenal of stationary decoys, bird calls and flags to simulate geese landing in an effort to try to lure them closer to the hunters. It only took a few minutes past sunrise for the first flock to appear from the west, and everyone buttoned down their blinds and anticipated the landing.

TOP: Brock Decker and wife Amber give Caleb Withers, 7, a lesson in gun safety at the start of the hunt. Withers was stationed with Bryan Heather in a blind, where he helped guide the young hunter along. BOTTOM: After setting up the decoys and blinds, Brock Decker and crew trade stories and wait for daybreak, when the geese typically take flight.

Continued on page 16

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“On a windy day like today it’s almost impossible to hit them when they’re flying on their route, so we try to get them to lock in on the landing area before opening up on them,” he said. A “lock” is when the geese have descended enough and lost their momentum, a sign that they’re committed to landing and the point at which it becomes easier to shoot them; it’s considered fair game because it’s not shooting at a bird on the ground or in a pond, Decker said. Kevin Loebach, a 35-year-old hunter from Tonica, was in charge of luring them. He went to work with a goose call and a flag with wings mimicking a landing, but the geese stayed their course and headed to the next pond. “There are a lot of things you can’t learn from just watching YouTube videos; actually being out here is the best resource,” Loebach said. He’s hunted everything from deer to geese and squirrels, but the game isn’t the only thing he looks forward to while hunting. “My biggest thing is watching the world wake up, watching the birds come in and being out in nature,” he said. Continued on page 17

ABOVE: Jeffery Stanish, 16, of Crystal Lake gets into a blind with a shotgun for the hunt. The group sets the decoys out in a horseshoe pattern hoping the geese land in the center. RIGHT: After spotting a flock of geese, Kevin Loebach waves a flag to mimic wings and draw the birds’ attention to the decoys.


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Bryan Heather agrees. “It’s learning the circle of life,” he said. Heather, 37, who was Withers’ mentor, has been hunting for nearly 25 years and taught his two sons to hunt. “There’s a lot of life skills they can learn at an early age, like gun safety,” he said. The 2-hour MORE hunt didn’t proINFORMATION duce any geese, Find the Adventures of Backwhich served as woods Brock and a lesson to the the A-Team on youngsters. Facebook for updates on hunting “I teach my events or for more kids that you information. won’t always win, and that’s one of the life skills that hunting teaches,” Heather said. Win or lose, Stanish and Withers were just happy to have the opportunity. “A bad day hunting is always better than a good day at school,” Stanish said. Withers’ mom agrees. “It’s why we got up at 4 a.m.; it’s about the kids and teaching them something new.” n

In order to help generate interest in the hunting program, Brock Decker posts live updates through social media on how the hunt is going.

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KSB, CGH apps offer patients a portal to a place where they can take medical matters into their own hands


t used to be that when your fingers did the walking, the only thing they’d do was make a phone call. These days, they do a whole lot more. They’re a tool in a technical toolbox that helps people manage their health care. In Dixon, KSB Hospital offers online patient portals for its clinic and hospital services, and a separate clinic portal app available to clinic patients only. Come March 19, though, the two portals will merge into one login, and hospital services will be added to the app, providing all of a patient’s electronic records all in one spot. “It is a great way for patients to manage their health, their children’s health, or loved one’s health when needed,” Jessica Nance, KSB’s quality specialist, said in a news release. “Our goal is to increase patient access to their providers via this great communication tool and to allow patients to feel more in control of their health with 24/7 access to their health record.” Go to to sign up or learn more. Margaret Shaw is KSB’s patient portal specialist; she can troubleshoot or answer questions at 815-285-5424. CGH app Like its online My Access Clinics Portal service, in Sterling, CGH Medical Center’s new app allows clinic patients to make appointments, check their lab results, get appointment reminders, view and refill prescriptions, and check out the backgrounds and ratings of staff physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants. Tap on any one of CGH’s 16 clinic locations and get a list of services available and directions to the office, which the app will call for you. It also comes with a CGH Main Clinic floor plan. Anyone can download the app and test some of its features, but unless they already have signed up for the clinic portals service, patients must take a photo ID to the nearest clinic location to get a verification code and instructions before they can make appointments and check test results. That’s to ensure sensitive medical information cannot be accessed by the wrong person. A CGH hospital portal also is available on the website, but for now, only clinic services can be accessed via the app. Those who already have a CGH My Access account simply need to download the CGH Clinics app from either the Apple App or Google Play store and log in their using existing log in and password. Call the CGH at 815-632-5328 or go to for more information. n



The great outdoors in Lee County is getting even greater. The Franklin Creek Conservation Association is working on a new home that will do double-duty as an education center, and its neighbor to the north, The Nature Conservancy, has welcomed its first full-time scientist, who’s digging deep into Nachusa Grassland’s world

RIGHT: Elizabeth Bach is Nachusa Grassland’s first full-time scientist. INSET: The Franklin Creek Conservation Association recently bought wetland, prairie, woodland and this house to add to the Franklin Creek State Natural Area.

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t’s been said that if you find something you love, you’ll never work a day of your life. Elizabeth Bach has found something she loves – and what’s more, she’s pretty outstanding in her field. With a double major, a master’s and a Ph.D under her graduation cap, The Nature Conservancy’s first full-time scientist came ready to put her boots on the ground and hit it running – all 3,500 acres of it at the restored remnant prairie in Lee County. better For the past month Bach has immersed herself in Nachusa The Nature Conservancy Grasslands, sharpening her skills on the blades of grass, studying wildlife, and helping keep an eye on the 125 bison that dot the landscape. The 33-year old scientist brings an extensive background in ecology and biology to her job studying the prairie, woodland and wetlands and all their denizens, from the 700 different types of native plants that start life below ground to the creatures that start life above it.


Continued on page 21

RIGHT: Nachusa Grasslands scientist Elizabeth Bach examines Little Bluestem, Big Bluestem and Indian grass native to the grasslands.

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“There are still a lot of things that we don’t know, but this is right time to ask those questions,” she said. “There are just very few places like this,” Bach said. Two of those plants are the prairie bush clover and eastern prairie Maybe it was destiny that brought her to Nachusa. After all, she hails fringed orchid. Their preservation is important due to the role they play from Prairie City, Iowa. in nature and their relationships with other plants to produce nitrogen Bach, who comes from a family of farmers, said she yearned early on – and Bach wants to make sure they stick around. to learn more about the environment. “It takes a lot of work and effort to bring them back if they leave,” As a chemistry major at Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa, Bach said. Bach found there wasn’t much difference between the chemical reactions Another question Bach is trying to answer is why bison eat specific that take place in a lab setting and the ones in the soil. types of grass that, if left to grow, would choke out more endangered “It’s the same reaction, how the plants break down dead things and types of plants. recycle them into what living things need. It’s what makes One the way she plans to solve nature’s mysteries is life happen,” Bach said. MORE INFORMATION through large-scale collaboration, piecing together inforBach graduated with a double major in biology and envi- Nachusa Grasslands, 8772 mation from the various ecologists, biologists and scientist S. Lowden Road, Franklin ronmental studies from Cornell College in 2007, earned who study at Nachusa. Grove, 815-456-2340 her master’s in plant biology from Southern Illinois UniverIn a landscape dominated by agriculture, Bach wants to sity in 2009, and got a Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary Find Nachusa Grasslands show there is space for both grasslands and cash crops. Nature Conservacy on biology at Iowa State University. In 1820, Illinois had 22 million acres of prairie land, Facebook After graduation she did post-doctorate work at the Uniaccording to the DNR. By 1900, most of those prairies versity of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and Colorado State were gone, replaced by farmland. By 1978, there was less University, collecting data, doing lab work and working with scientists than 2,300 acres of high quality prairie in the state. Today, less than from around the world. one-tenth of 1 percent of that 22 million acres remains as prairie land – Then the opportunity to work at Nachusa knocked, and that was hardly a fitting legacy for The Prairie State, but efforts to restore prairie enough to open the door for Bach to return to the Midwest and work in land have ramped up in recent years. an ecologically rich environment. “It’s amazing that there was so little back then and now we have 3,500 “We think of the rain forest as an interesting environment,” she said. acres to ourselves,” Bach said. “But we have a very special one in our own backyard.” While she may still be new to the job, Bach has her eyes set on firmly Part of what makes it special is the endangered plant species at Nachu- on the future and what she wants to be doing: helping the grasslands sa. Bach is working to better understand and protect the environment grow. that not only allows them to survive, but thrive. “I love doing this and I hope to be here for a long time.” n Continued from page 20

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A fixerupper for the Franklin Creek Conservation Association

The Franklin Creek Conservation Association staff and local volunteers began work on their next big project June 30 – rehabbing a house into an education center and community space. Submitted photo




hink of it as “This Old House” meets this new home. The old house is nestled among the trees near Franklin Grove, just a stone’s throw across the street from Franklin better Creek State Natural Area – a perfect Franklin Creek spot for the State Natural Area new home of The Franklin Creek Conservation Association. The group – founded in 1981 with a mission of caring for and educating people about the natural areas of Franklin Creek – bought the house at 1480 Old Mill Road in December 2017 with the goal of renovating the house and restoring the surrounding land for a community Youth Center and education facility on the first floor and offices on the second. The plans fit in with the group’s current push to offer more education programs for area youth.


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Work began over the summer on the nearly 50-year-old dilapidated house and surrounding wetland, prairie, and woodland. Since then several workdays have been held and the project – dubbed the 1480 Project – is beginning to take shape. Volunteers have greased up their MORE elbows to clear brush and work on INFORMATION the yard, and now they’re investing What: Franklin Creek State Natural Area some sweat equity into the house. and Franklin Creek While the two-story in need of Grist Mill and InterTLC has seen better days, volunpretive Center Where: 1872 Twist teers are committed to ensuring Road, Franklin it sees better days again. Already, Grove; mill, 1893 debris has been removed from Twist Road When: Park office the house and some of the rough open 8 a.m. to 5 edges have been smoothed out in p.m.; mill, noon to 4 p.m. Friday, Saturday preparation for the rehab project. and Sunday April Other plans include installing a through October commercial kitchen, adding a trail Information: 815456-2878 or dnr. to the property and restoring the conservation land. Pages/FranklinCreek. The group always welcomes aspx for the park; 815-456-2718 for the volunteers who want to roll up grist mill their sleeves. No experience is necessary, just a willingness to help out. Call 815-456-2718 or e-mail to find out how to help. Find Franklin Creek Conservation Association on Facebook or go to for more information. n

Scenes from Franklin Creek State Natural Area

Photos by Andrea Mills for Sauk Valley Media

ABOVE: The Mill Springs Trail at Franklin Creek State Natural Area is an easy path that makes it possible for visitors with various levels of mobility to enjoy nature’s beauty. INSETS: The Franklin Creek Grist Mill & Interpretive Center is a reproduction of the 1847 mill that once ground corn and grain. The mill has a welcome center on the first floor, and the second floor features an education and interpretive center.

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Support for Sexual Assault Survivors in the Sauk Valley Area Sexual violence is any type of unwanted sexual contact, including sexual assault and rape. This can include words and actions like sexual harassment, catcalling, and nonconsensual sharing of private images, such as revenge porn. Nearly 1 in 2 women and 1 in 5 men have experienced sexual violence other than rape in their lifetime. Anyone can experience sexual violence, including children, teens, adults, and seniors. Sexual violence happens in every community. Healing and justice look different for every survivor. The YWCA of the Sauk Valley’s Sexual Assault Program offers a variety of services to help survivors heal in their own time and their own way. Support and services are also provided in Spanish. Often, people who have been sexually assaulted may not want to talk about the assault with family and friends. Young children may not realize they have been victimized. Older children may want to protect their parents. Teens and adults may fear losing their friends or hurting their family. They may also be concerned that they will be blamed, or they won’t be believed. YWCA staff and volunteers listen without judgment and believe survivors who call their hotline. It doesn’t matter what they were wearing, how they were acting, or if they were drinking. Sexual assault is never the victim’s fault. Some people who have been assaulted will go to the hospital for medical treatment, testing, and evidence collection. These processes can be invasive, lengthy, and confusing. YWCA staff and volunteers will go to the hospital to be with those survivors to support them, explain their rights and options, and help them understand their follow-up care. YWCA Advocates assist survivors who choose to move forward with the criminal justice system. Advocates refer them to the appropriate law enforcement agency or DCFS. They help survivors with Orders of Protection, Civil No Contact Orders, and Stalking No Contact Orders, and provide them with emotional support during the court hearings associated with the assault. Survivors can experience anger, fear, sadness, and other strong emotions. By talking to someone trained specifically to deal with sexual trauma, survivors are able to identify and develop healthy coping skills. The YWCA provides free, confidential counseling to survivors of all ages and genders. They also provide free counseling to family members who have been impacted by the sexual violence. If transportation is an issue, they work with their clients to ensure they can receive counseling services. YWCA counseling services are available no matter how recently or long ago someone was assaulted. Teens are at especially high risk for experiencing sexual violence. The YWCA leads teen groups at several area high schools. The groups provide a safe space for youth to talk about their concerns, struggles, and successes in dealing with sexual violence. Topics include healthy relationships, sexual harassment, consent, and cyber safety. Healing from sexual violence is a unique, ongoing process. Please contact the YWCA’s Sexual Assault Program at 815-625-0333 or 815-288-1232 if you or someone you know would like more information about services.



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• Medical Advocacy & Legal Advocacy • Healthy Relationship Groups for Teens • Emotional Support and Empowerment 24-Hour Crisis Hotline: 815.626.7277 | 815.288.1011 412 1st Ave., Sterling, IL 98 S. Galena Ave., Dixon, IL This project was supported by Grant #2015-VA-GX-0049, awarded by the Office for Victims of Crime, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice, through the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority. Points of view or opinions contained within this document are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice, or the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority. SM-ST1605247


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