Run for the Children’s Champion Partner – Verizon

As we prepare for our 4th annual Run for the Children race, I want to take time to shine a light on our extraordinary Champion Partner, Verizon. Verizon has been a strong supporter of Fairfax CASA for the past eight years, driven by a commitment to give back to the community, and most specifically to support vulnerable youth.

At the forefront of our relationship with Verizon is Doug Brammer, Manager of State Government Affairs. Doug has been a true partner to Fairfax CASA, in every sense of the word. Intensely involved in community affairs, Doug has facilitated Verizon’s sponsorship of many events for Fairfax CASA and, in 2010 he helped to launch our inaugural Run for the Children with a Verizon partnership grant.

“Verizon’s approach to Corporate Citizenship is a philosophy we call ‘Shared Success.’ It’s about leveraging our corporate values to create economic and social value. We believe there are tremendous opportunities to grow and innovate by applying our technologies to important social issues. In doing so, we create value for us and society,” says Doug.

Fairfax CASA’s current initiatives include improving educational outcomes for youth and enhancing our skills in working with teens as they move toward adulthood. We have created innovative methods for training our volunteers in these areas, using new online technology to supplement classroom teaching. Similarly, Doug shares that Verizon has “refocused the Verizon Foundation to become a channel for innovation and social change. Just as Verizon’s Innovation Centers have become an incubator for new business solutions in the marketplace, the Verizon Foundation aims to become an incubator for new social solutions and best practices in applying our technology to underserved communities.”

We are proud to partner with Verizon to enhance social change in Northern Virginia. Verizon’s support allows us to reach deep into our neighborhoods to build awareness about abuse and neglect and highlight the work of CASA volunteers as they help children heal from unthinkable trauma.

Register today for Fairfax CASA’s Run for the Children and ride the wave of change!

In other news:

 

Click to read the remaining March 2014 Newsletter articles.

Major Donors Enjoy a Wine Tasting

wine night Last month, the Fairfax CASA Board and staff said ‘Merci’ to 55 generous donors by hosting a wine tasting event at The Wine House in Fairfax, VA. The guests, who included major donors and local community leaders, enjoyed an afternoon of fine French wines, hors d’oeuvres, and good conversation.

Lisa Banks, Executive Director of Fairfax CASA gave a heartfelt thank you to the group, acknowledging that their support is vital to sustaining the advocacy work of more than 150 CASA volunteers. Yearly, it costs Fairfax CASA $1,200 to provide comprehensive advocacy to one abused or neglected child: our program counts on individual and corporate sponsors to help fund these critical services.

If you would like to make a gift to Fairfax CASA, please visit the program’s giving page or contact Rebecca Megel at rmegel@casafairfax.org

Click to read the remaining March 2014 Newsletter articles.

Jennifer Baker – CASA Volunteer and Community Leader 

Jenn Baker-When it comes to being a CASA volunteer, Jennifer Baker finds her greatest reward in the sustained and individual nature of the work. “It’s not like tutoring, for example, where you work with whatever child walks through the door. As a CASA volunteer, you have the ability to build rapport with a child and a family. It is something I really love about CASA.”

A former school teacher who now operates a business in the IT field, Jennifer has spent the past two years advocating for the best interests of three young children. She has watched their steady progress towards reunification with their mother, and has enjoyed the entire family’s continuing growth. Along the way, Jennifer has made her own mark with the children by stressing the importance of education and talking about what they might want to be when they grow up. “I feel like I am planting seeds for the future. I am trying to help them understand that there is a big world out there.”

It turns out that CASA volunteering is just one of Jennifer’s many volunteer roles. She has been a community leader in her hometown of Herndon, working with the Holiday Homes Tour Committee, Friday Night Live, the Herndon Council for the Arts and the Herndon Festival. She is also a member of the Philanthropic Educational Organization (P.E.O.) dedicated to promoting and funding educational opportunities for women around the world. Not surprisingly, Jennifer was part of a group recognized for service to the Town during the Mayor’s Volunteer Appreciation ceremony last year!

Jennifer is now directing her considerable energy at a run for Town Council of Herndon. “Herndon has the charm of a small town,” she says, “a place where you can know your neighbors and walk to local shops and restaurants and yet have access to the cultural and business opportunities of a city like Washington. I love it and want to protect the history and the intimacy of our home town and still create a place that nurtures the entrepreneurial spirit of small businesses like Green Lizard Cycling.”

Fairfax CASA thanks Jennifer Baker for her service to our community and wishes her luck in her new endeavor!

Click to read the remaining March 2014 Newsletter articles.

Spring is coming – get ready for Fairfax CASA’s Run for the Children!

For those of you discouraged by this winter’s circular offering of “cold – ice – snow – repeat,” I am thrilled to report that spring is less than one month away! Such enlivening news, accompanied by this week’s warmer weather, is just the ticket to get us energized for this year’s Run for the Children to be held on Saturday, May 3 at the Fairfax County Courthouse.

Each year, the Run for the Children draws attention to child abuse and neglect while raising funds to support the 185 CASA volunteers who advocate for these innocent victims. Whether you run, walk, volunteer, or donate to the run, please know that your participation is vital and will help improve the lives of nearly 500 abused and neglected children in our community this year.

The run also showcases the heroes among us – the CASA volunteers – who give their time, skills, and compassion to ensure that vulnerable children have a better future. Sitting on my desk is a letter about one such hero, Kathy, written by the foster parents of the young boy she serves. Regarding Kathy’s three years of strong advocacy for the boy they will soon adopt, the couple wrote, “We just wanted to acknowledge to you and the CASA program what a wonderful asset [Kathy] has been to [our adoptive son] and us as a family during the past few years. She has helped so much with his healing process and growth both academically and socially…There are no words to describe our gratitude… As foster parents we have many people involved from many agencies … Kathy is one of the finest individuals to be a part of those teams. We thank CASA and Kathy.”

As one among many extraordinary CASA volunteers, let Kathy’s extraordinary acts motivate you to “spring” into action for this year’s Run for the Children. Visit our Race Website to learn more about this exciting event, and register. In doing so you, too, become an agent of community change.

In other news:

 

Click to read the remaining February 2014 Newsletter articles.

Three school teams and counting for the Run for the Children

DSC_1932With just three months to go until Fairfax CASA’s Run for the Children 8K Race & 3K Run/Walk, we are busy recruiting school teams to show their school pride on race day. Three schools — Liberty Middle School, Frost Middle School and Longfellow Middle School – have already begun to form their teams to compete in the race or volunteer on race day.

Students on school teams benefit from the camaraderie of team building, the community service hours, and the athletic boost of preparing for the race. The Run for the Children gives children and youth a first-hand opportunity to learn about helping other children in need.

Students help build their class teams by reaching out to friends, classmates and family members. Interested in getting your student or school involved in our race? Contact Jennifer Bellhouse jbellhouse@casafairfax.org for more information.

Click to read the remaining February 2014 Newsletter articles.

Fostering Futures Training

Fostering older youth training 2Being a teenager is tough in today’s world, and it’s even more challenging for older teens living in foster care. Teens in foster care may not know if they are returning home, where they are going to be living in a year, or how they are going to support themselves once they turn 18. In response to the needs of these youth, Fairfax CASA presented the Fostering Futures training on Saturday, January, 25th, to 46 CASA volunteers. The day long training, which is based on a curriculum created by National CASA, includes information on teen brain development, available resources, the challenges faced by older youth in foster care, and strategies for engaging older youth in planning for young adulthood. The training group also had the benefit of hearing from a young woman who was in foster care herself as a youth; she shared some of the successes and challenges of the experience, as well as her role as a peer mentor for teens in foster care in Fairfax County.

In the afternoon, CASA volunteers role played in order to practice the skills they had learned. And, at the end of the day, the entire class of volunteers shared their ideas for how they would use the training to better advocate for older youth in foster care. Early feedback indicates that The Fostering Futures training was a valuable experience for our CASA volunteers, offering them new skills and ideas for supporting youth as they move toward independence.

Click to read the remaining February 2014 Newsletter articles.

Raising the Bar for the Educational Needs of Children

My youngest child Kendall returned to college this week after the long holiday break.  She texted me to say that her classes were amazing and she was “re-inspired” to chart a path toward graduate work in early childhood education.  As I delighted in her excitement and determination to reach her goal, I also thought about those who encourage the educational dreams of abused and neglected children and prepare them for the journey.

It is well documented that abused and neglected children, particularly those placed in foster care, face educational challenges and chronic underachievement in school.  Oftentimes, those of us working with traumatized children think it is best to give them a “pass” in school because they have a lot going on in their lives; we set low expectations and don’t insist they develop disciplined study habits; we accept minimum-level achievement without engaging them in the exploration of excellence.  This low bar does not serve these children well.

Like Kendall, abused and neglected children must visualize their future in order to set a course and master the skills and knowledge to take them there. Caring adults must serve as guides and mentors to help them set goals and make the effort to achieve those goals, while providing reassurance that they can succeed.

This past year at Fairfax CASA, we made a new commitment to improve the ability of CASA volunteers to advocate for the educational needs of the children they serve.  With the benefit of an extensive educational advocacy training, developed in collaboration with Fairfax County Public Schools, CASA volunteers are now informed about school resources and college readiness programs, aware of the effects of trauma on a child’s ability to learn, able to identify a child’s academic strengths and devise strategies to maximize them.  With these enhanced skills, Fairfax CASA volunteers are ready to raise the bar of success for our community’s youth.

We encourage all who work with abused and neglected children to join us in helping them envision their possibilities and strive for excellence.

Happy New Year!

In other news:

 

Click to read the remaining January 2014 Newsletter articles.

Get Involved: Run for the Children

DSC_1622The fourth annual Fairfax CASA Run for the Children 8K Race & 3K Run/Walk is only 112 days away! The race will be held in historic Fairfax City, on May 3, 2014 with an 8:00 am start time. The USATF certified course, ample free parking, great prizes, food, raffles, and entertainment make this a must run event!

“I run because abused and neglected children are innocent victims who need someone to stand beside them in the unfamiliar world of child protection. “ — Melissa a real estate consultant with Keller Williams Realty Fairfax said at the 2013 Race.

There are many ways to get involved in the 2014 run:

      • Create a team- get the office, family, or a group of friends together to support the community.
      • Volunteer-help us behind the scenes. It’s a great way to give back to the community and meet others.
      • Donate or fundraise- More than eighty-five cents out of every dollar donated to Fairfax CASA provides direct support to our volunteers and the children they serve.
      • Spread the word- Talk about the race on social media, newsletters, blogs and flyers.

 

For more information, please visit www.fairfaxrunforthechildren.com or contact Jennie Bellhouse at jbellhouse@casafairfax.org or 703-273-3526, ext. 15.

Click to read the remaining January 2014 Newsletter articles.

A New Class of CASA Volunteers

DSC_0311 - CopyThirteen future Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA Volunteers) completed their pre-service training on Saturday, November 23.  These volunteers participated in an intensive 36 hour training which addressed a wide range of topics, including: the laws that govern abuse and neglect cases; the various dynamics that contribute to abuse and neglect, such as mental illness or substance abuse; child development; and the impact of trauma on children. Volunteers also received training on the communication and interview process, so that they may work as part of a team, along with the social worker and the Guardian ad litem, to advocate for the child.The pre-service training prepares CASA volunteers to advocate for children in all types of situations, and to tailor their advocacy efforts to the needs of the particular child or children on the case.

This particular cohort included three men and ten women, all of whom were sworn into service in time to receive their first cases in early 2014.  Ultimately, the members of the November 2013 training class will serve approximately 30 children on 13 new cases that have been referred to Fairfax CASA by the juvenile court.

November 2013 Graduates:

Maritza Bojorge
Cesar Buenadicha
Anne Bunch
Nancy Glenn
Carla Hellwig
Missy Henriksen
Susan Hildebrand
Dana Hubchen
Len Kreitzberg
Nick Kuttner
Judith Landry
Bert Roepe
Anne Whipple

Click to read the remaining January 2014 Newsletter articles.

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

July 2013

Children with a CASA volunteer:  244
Total cases served:  149
Volunteers assigned to cases:  133
Volunteers serving more than one case:  16
New children with CASA volunteers already matched: 6
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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