Last week I hosted Vice President Joe Biden for a visit to my hometown of Peoria. He had been invited to speak at the Partners In Peace awards celebration held annually by the Center for the Prevention of Abuse.
The center is the only agency in the State of Illinois to provide combined services to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault/abuse, and elder abuse. The Center also reaches students age pre-K through college with violence prevention education, as well as abusers with an abuser re-education program.
Vice President Biden gave a terrific speech in which he announced a proposed $130.5 million increase in the fiscal 2011 budget to combat violence against women:
"This is about educating the whole society. There's been progress. But the problem is still with us today. I have always said that once we got to the White House we would step it up even more. And we will. We need to nourish and support more programs like yours."
I want to thank the Vice President for his support of the center and its mission. He has been working to end domestic abuse for decades. In fact, he authored the 1994 Violence Against Women Act, which led to the creation of our Peoria County Family Justice Center.
If you read the news reports of his visit, you'll know that I introduced the Vice President to two of my favorite Peoria landmarks, George's Shoeshine and the Spotted Cow restaurant and ice cream shop.
George's is a downtown Peoria legend run by George Manias. He's been in the business for 63 years and has seen it all. He didn't even bat an eye when the Vice President sat in his chair.
At the Spotted Cow, Vice President Biden sat for more than an hour talking health care and a range of issues with a crowd of local folks. One of those at the table was Lucy Gulley, President of Rock Solid Concrete Products. Rock Solid is one of the many small businesses participating in Recovery Act projects. Spotted Cow proprietor Frank Abdnour even took a break to join us at the table.
It was a terrific honor hosting Vice President Biden around town, and--all in all--it was a fine day. I want to thank the Vice President for spending the day with us and for the warmth he shared. And I want to thank Peorians for giving him such a friendly welcome.