Going the Distance for Youth

Exactly two years ago, in August, 2012, I wrote to you about a young man who had come under the court’s protection after repeated sexual and physical abuse. The youth’s mental health had rapidly deteriorated without proper attention from his family and he was placed in foster care. I worried that Fairfax CASA would not have the capacity to help him because we were understaffed and struggling to find CASA volunteers for a number of waiting youth.

Soon after my letter, veteran CASA volunteer Siobhan agreed to be this young man’s advocate. Through skilled and caring dedication to his needs and well being, Siobhan has become one of his most trusted sources of support. While he continues to face challenges,   this young man has thrived in his foster home and school, and is building a life of opportunity, which includes college next year.

This story would be magnificent enough if it ended here, but there is more.

Nearing his 18th birthday this month, the young man and Siobhan discussed the option of her continuing as his CASA volunteer until age 21, while he receives independent living services from the Department of Family Services. Years ago, this request would not have been considered – or even possible. By law, CASA volunteers did not have a clear role as advocates after the age of majority.

Fortunately, our Commonwealth has placed special emphasis in recent years on providing additional supports for vulnerable youth who do not have family available to help them navigate adulthood. New legislation, which took effect on July 1, clarifies that the courts in Virginia may order CASA volunteers to remain on a case after a youth’s 18th birthday. And – that is exactly what happened.

This month, at a hearing for this young man’s case, a Fairfax County juvenile court judge continued Siobhan’s appointment to serve the youth after age 18, making Siobhan the first Fairfax CASA volunteer ever to do so. The young man then shared with the judge that although trust does not come easily to him, he trusts his Guardian ad litem and Siobhan and is glad they will remain in his life.

We have witnessed history in the making this month, and I am proud that this young man – and many others to follow – will have a CASA volunteer by their side, supporting their entrance into adulthood.

What a magnificent difference in just two years.

In other news:

 

Click to read the remaining Summer 2014 Newsletter articles.

“Splurge for Children!” at Fairfax CASA’s Auction Dinner

The Wine HouseIn September, the Fairfax CASA Board of Directors will host a special fundraising event– the first of its kind in the program’s history.

Splurge for Children, a dinner and silent auction, will take place Tuesday, September 9, 7:00 PM, at The Wine House in Fairfax City. Forty guests have reserved a spot to enjoy a five-course meal and wine pairing, while bidding on exclusive silent auction items.

The funds raised from this special evening will support Fairfax CASA’s work throughout the year.

With the community’s involvement, we have been able to increase awareness about child abuse and neglect as well as raise money for our important mission. We are most fortunate to have support from business owners like The Wine House, who are committed to giving back to the community. With their generosity and a big “splurge” from our special guests, even more at-risk children will have an opportunity to grow and learn in a safe and loving home.

Interested in donating a silent Auction gift?

To donate an auction item, email Jennifer Bellhouse

Click to read the remaining Summer 2014 Newsletter articles.

CASA Volunteer Sheila Morris

Sheila Morris “I call her jellybean.”

That’s the nickname CASA Volunteer Sheila Morris uses for the teenage girl for whom she advocates. Now almost 18, the teen first came to the court’s attention when her parents neglected to care for her progressive neurological disease. It’s a challenging case, as the girl also struggles with mental health issues and needs special care.

Sheila is a constant figure in the young girl’s life, following her through multiple foster homes and repeated hospitalizations. “Whenever I appear for a visit in a new place, she asks, ‘How did you know I was here?’ These children have learned not to count on people. To realize that someone is always keeping track of them, that’s not something they take for granted.”
The path towards becoming a CASA volunteer started in 2005, when Sheila saw a notice in the paper for an information session. The program sounded interesting – Sheila studied early childhood education and loves children – but she was raising two boys, working, and did not have time to volunteer. She cut out the notice and placed it in her desk drawer, pulling it out now and then and debating whether the time was right for CASA. In 2010 she decided to take the plunge.

As a CASA volunteer, Sheila values her ability to keep other team members in the loop. “I often have a piece of information that I assume the others have and then find out they do not.” Just recently, she learned that the girl would not be graduating from high school before her eighteenth birthday. Sheila notified the social worker to ensure that the girl would continue to receive services, even after she aged out of the system.

Another proud achievement? The smile on her teen’s face when she uses her nickname. “She was called Jellybean as a young child. When I call her that now I get to enjoy her wonderful impetuous laugh. Those moments of joy are priceless.”

Click to read the remaining Summer 2014 Newsletter articles.

Do More 24

Tomorrow, June 19, has been designated as Do More 24™ in the DC metro area. Organized by United Way of the National Capital Area, Do More 24™ leverages the power of individuals with a one day online fundraising event to support the region’s nonprofit organizations as they respond to our community’s most pressing challenges. Fairfax CASA is proud to participate in this year’s campaign and we invite you to participate as well!

Please make a donation or widen our circle of support by passing this email on to three friends.

At Fairfax CASA, our goal is to ensure that every abused and neglected child has the opportunity to grow, learn and thrive in the safe embrace of a loving home. Our challenge is to provide a highly trained and supervised CASA volunteer advocate who will stand up for these children in court and fight for their rights.

Be a part of this powerful movement:
1) Starting at midnight tonight, you have 24 hours to make an online donation
2) Bookmark this giving link
3) Encourage 3 friends to give

Make tomorrow a great day for children in our community!

In other news:

 

Click to read the remaining June 2014 Newsletter articles.

 

Fairfax CASA’s ExxonMobil Summer Intern

stephanie Please stop in and say hello to Stephanie Scriven, this summer’s ExxonMobil Community Summer Jobs Program intern. This summer, Stephanie will be working on painting a picture of Fairfax CASA’s story, using film as her canvas.

Stephanie was born and raised in El Paso, Texas. Though most of her family is in the military, Stephanie says she was blessed to be able to stay in one place most of her life. You might hear Steph talk about El Paso as one of the best places in the world, but she also loves to travel and have adventures. As a self-proclaimed “out-doorsy” person, Steph loves to go four-wheeling, go on cruises, and camp in tents with her family and friends.

During the year, she is devoted to her studies at George Mason University pursuing a double major in Film and Video Studies and Social Work.

Stephanie has a passion for children and plans to use her love of film to support those who are less fortunate. When asked about her philosophy on a career in film, Steph says, “We all have a story; it’s just a matter of telling it or not.”

Click to read the remaining June 2014 Newsletter articles.

Fairfax CASA Welcomes our new Executive Assistant and Finance Coordinator!

Lauren Raised in Reston, VA, Lauren Arcudi received her B.S in Political Science with a concentration in Government from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Lauren began her career as a Legislative Assistant and Finance Director to Delegate Joe Morrissey at the Virginia House of Delegates. Prior to working with Mr. Morrissey, Lauren served as a finance intern for Senator Tim Kaine’s 2012 Senate Campaign. In her free time Lauren enjoys walking her dog Theodore, reading and going to theater.

This month, Lauren begins her role as Executive Assistant and Finance Coordinator, replacing Rebecca Megel. Lauren will assist Lisa Banks with all administrative, HR, fundraising, and financial matters for Fairfax CASA. Lauren shares that she loves fundraising and is excited about making next year’s Run for the Children an even bigger success!

Passionate about the needs of children, Lauren believes that every child deserves a loving home. She is thrilled to be working at Fairfax CASA where she will have an opportunity to make a difference in her community. Please stop by and introduce yourself to Lauren when you are in the office!

Click to read the remaining June 2014 Newsletter articles.

A Shared Legacy of Hope for Children

On May 3, with the help of many faithful sponsors, we hosted our 4th annual Run for the Children in Fairfax. It was another spectacular event, enhanced by beautiful spring weather and the participation of nearly 900 runners and walkers and 200 volunteers who came together to honor the powerful work of our CASA volunteers. The race grounds buzzed with energy as families, friends, and colleagues celebrated Fairfax CASA’s 25 years of advocacy for more than 6,000 abused and neglected children. Supporters applauded our ability to provide a CASA volunteer to every abused or neglected child who enters the court’s protection, a milestone that we reached and have maintained for nearly a year.

We started the Run for the Children as an occasion where our entire community might engage in the fight to keep children safe and to protect their dignity and rights. You have met the call, and exceeded our expectations by not only participating year after year, but also by bringing a new friend or two each time to learn about CASA. And with each year, your collective generosity has grown; the race has now raised a total of $589,463!

Our achievements have not happened by chance. They are the result of vision, determination, and compassion put forth by thousands of individuals for a quarter century. Our founders, and past and present staff, CASA volunteers, board members, stakeholders, supporters, donors – in short, YOU – share in Fairfax CASA’s legacy of giving abused and neglected children hope and a better future.

Thank you for your steadfast commitment to children and your recognition of the value in our work. We are humbled and grateful.

In other news:

 

Click to read the remaining May 2014 Newsletter articles.

 

SRA makes a proud showing at the 2014 Run for the Children

03May14_FairfaxCasa__57SRA’s culture of corporate citizenship shines through thanks to a special team of employees.

SRA International made a wholehearted commitment to Fairfax CASA this year, first as the water bottle sponsor, and second as the proud host of the “Walking the Talk Team.” This team of talented SRA employees worked tirelessly to raise funds for the race, ultimately bringing in over $13, 600 – more than any other team — to support Fairfax CASA’s work with abused and neglected children.

Under the leadership of SRA Senior HR Business Partner – Health, Colleen Bjork, the “Walking the Talk Team” reached out to fellow SRA colleagues, friends, and family for donations, and even hosted a bake sale to kick off their efforts. In speaking about what motivated the team, Colleen reflected, “All children should have the opportunity to grow up in an environment where they are safe and able to experience all of the beautiful things life has to offer. While it is unfortunate that children are exposed to harm and neglect on a daily basis, we are very lucky to have the CASA program. Events such as the Run for the Children allow SRA to demonstrate its commitment to its core values and reinforce its culture of corporate citizenship. We stand behind Fairfax CASA’s mission and look forward to future partnerships. ”

For 30 years, SRA has provided IT solutions and professional services to government clients in civilian, defense, health, intelligence, law enforcement and homeland security agencies. Every day, SRA employees apply their creativity and expertise in support of our customers’ most critical missions, to ensure the safety, security, health and wellbeing of our nation. SRA believes that people are our best asset. To learn more about SRA and its current open positions please visit www.sra.com/careers.

Click to read the remaining May 2014 Newsletter articles.

Rebecca Megel- Fairfax CASA Bids a Fond Farewell!  

RebeccaAfter five years on staff, the Fairfax CASA family bids a heartfelt goodbye to Rebecca Megel, the program’s Finance and Project Specialist.
Rebecca, or “Becca” as she is called in the office, graduated from the George Mason University School of Law this May. She will be studying to take the Virginia Bar exam this summer and then pursuing a career as an attorney.

Becca deserves much of the credit for launching Fairfax CASA’s major fundraising event, the Run for the Children. She has also been instrumental in organizing the program’s finances, helping create the new website, coordinating with the Board, communicating with donors, and assisting with other events.

When asked what would stand out for her about her time at CASA, Rebecca said, “My favorite memory of Fairfax CASA is honoring the volunteers at the Light of Hope celebration each year and hearing their stories. I have yet to make it through one without tearing up.”

We will miss Rebecca’s hard work and dedication to CASA, not to mention her bright and welcoming smile. Our family at Fairfax CASA will miss you, Becca. We wish you all the best in your next chapter!

Click to read the remaining May 2014 Newsletter articles.

August 2014

Children with a CASA volunteer: 219
Volunteers assigned to cases: 124
New children with CASA volunteers already matched: 2
Children waiting for a volunteer: 0

Annual FY14

# of children served by a CASA volunteer:  368
# of additional children whose cases were monitored by staff or volunteers:  10
Volunteers active on cases:  174
Case hours devoted by CASA volunteers:  16,791
Volunteer contacts with children:  4,325
Miles driven by volunteers in the course of their CASA work:  137,464

July 2014

Children with a CASA volunteer: 221
Volunteers assigned to cases: 126
New children with CASA volunteers already matched: 2
Children waiting for a volunteer: 0

June 2014

Children with a CASA volunteer: 222
Volunteers assigned to cases: 131
New children with CASA volunteers already matched: 17
Children waiting for a volunteer: 0

May 2014

Children with a CASA volunteer: 221
Volunteers assigned to cases: 130
New children with CASA volunteers already matched: 13
Children waiting for a volunteer: 0

April 2014

Children with a CASA volunteer: 264
Volunteers assigned to cases: 136
New children with CASA volunteers already matched: 6
Children waiting for a volunteer: 0

March 2014

Children with a CASA volunteer: 268
Volunteers assigned to cases: 139
New children with CASA volunteers already matched: 21
Children waiting for a volunteer: 0

February 2014

Children with a CASA volunteer: 263
Volunteers assigned to cases: 137
New children with CASA volunteers already matched: 25
Children waiting for a volunteer: 0

January 2014

Children with a CASA volunteer: 266
Volunteers assigned to cases: 134
New children with CASA volunteers already matched: 9
Children waiting for a volunteer: 0

December 2013

Children with a CASA volunteer: 248
Volunteers assigned to cases: 131
New children with CASA volunteers already matched: 23
Children waiting for a volunteer: 0

November 2013

Children with a CASA volunteer: 247
Volunteers assigned to cases: 133
New children with CASA volunteers already matched: 21
Children waiting for a volunteer: 0

October 2013

Children with a CASA volunteer: 251
Volunteers assigned to cases: 138
New children with CASA volunteers already matched: 21
Children waiting for a volunteer: 0

September 2013

Children with a CASA volunteer: 246
Volunteers assigned to cases: 138
New children with CASA volunteers already matched: 17
Children waiting for a volunteer: 0

August 2013

Children with a CASA volunteer: 249
Volunteers assigned to cases: 139
New children with CASA volunteers already matched: 2
Children waiting for a volunteer: 0

Annual FY13 Statistics

# of children served by a CASA volunteer:  416
# of additional children whose cases were monitored by staff or volunteers:  18
Volunteers active on cases:  175
Case hours devoted by CASA volunteers:  23,299
Volunteer contacts with children:  5,016
Miles driven by volunteers in the course of their CASA work:  170,221

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