On April 23, 2019 nearly 100 Berks County leaders, volunteers and government representatives gathered to support the CASA Annual Awareness Breakfast at the DoubleTree by Hilton Reading.
CASA deploys volunteers to represent abused, neglected and/or abandoned youth in the court system. CASA (which stands for Court-Appointed Special Advocates) has 41 volunteers with another 10 in training now. The nonprofit agency wants to raise $30,000 to add 25 more volunteers this year, bringing the total to 75.
While CASA served 54 children in the Reading and Berks area this past year, those additional volunteers would help CASA assist some of the remaining 500-plus children who are still waiting for a volunteer to be their champion as they struggle toward stability in their home lives.
The event raised nearly $12,000, a great start toward the goal of $30,000. Berks County businesses have stepped up to make this happen. The following are the businesses that helped to make this event happen:
What sort of impact do you feel you have made by being a CASA volunteer and/or what sort of impact has being a CASA volunteer made on you? In May of 2016 I was appointed a case that involved a sibling group of five children that had been removed from their parents in December of 2015. One of my first visits was to the oldest child’s school to review educational records. As I looked through her IEP, I noticed that no progress was frequently noted regarding physical therapy sessions that the child was participating to address her tip-toe walking. I asked school officials if they knew the reason the child walked on her tip-toes and they did not. Because of numerous foster placements and other circumstances, there had been no real investigation as to why this young child walked on her tip-toes.
Due to personal experience I suspected that this young girl was on the autistic spectrum. As her CASA, I was able to advocate for her to be first seen by a foot specialist who was able to rule out a physical condition that was causing this child to walk on her tip-toes. I was then able to advocate that the child be evaluated by a psychiatrist. It was determined through the evaluation that she was indeed on the autistic spectrum.
Today, this amazing young girl is receiving the appropriate services to address her educational and emotionally needs. National studies confirm that children who are assigned a CASA receive more services than those without. As a result, these children’s chances for leading happy, healthy, and productive lives are increased. CASA volunteers make a real difference at a critical turning point in a child’s life. It has been very fulfilling for me, personally, to be a part of a child’s journey and to be their voice when they often feel alone and unheard.