When Annie was young, she was removed from her home due to abuse and neglect from her parents. Throughout her childhood, Annie was moved through 16 different foster placements.
Annie regularly missed school, and at one point was asked to leave one of her foster group homes because of challenging behavior.
At the age of ten, Annie was matched with Marie, a Court-Appointed Special Advocate (CASA). Marie learned Annie’s story, met up with her regularly and talked about life. Every time Annie switched schools, Marie made phone calls to be sure Annie’s school credits followed her.
Marie encouraged Annie in her academics and over time, Annie developed a new attitude about school and began to look forward to her community there. Annie currently lives in a Transitional Housing Placement Program, where she is thriving. She has maintained a part-time job and caught up with her school credits and will graduate in June.
There are 470 children in San Luis Obispo County who, like Annie, have been abused or neglected and are under the protection of our court system. It is the goal of CASA of SLO County to match every one of these children with an advocate like Marie, who can speak up for them when their needs are being overlooked.
Children under the protection of the court system interact with many well-meaning adults – teachers, foster parents, judges and counselors – each of whom has something important to bring to that child’s well-being and success. A CASA volunteer fills a unique role by being the one person who is objectively involved in all aspects of the child’s life. A CASA volunteer is there to listen, learn, and if the need arises, to speak up on behalf of the child.
Being a CASA volunteer means providing a voice to someone whose voice is being lost.
Although many choose to take on this role upon retirement, CASA of SLO County is grateful for volunteers in all stages of life who choose to make the commitment of 12-15 hours per month to be there for a child. Through training and supervision from CASA staff, these volunteers become equipped to be a steady presence in these young people’s lives, and many find the experience to be more manageable than they expected.
Currently, less than half of the 470 children who need a CASA volunteer have one. For community members who are curious but not yet ready to commit to the role, CASA of SLO County offers monthly information sessions. These sessions are held on the fourth Tuesday of every month (excluding December) at CASA’s office, and the second Wednesday of every month at various Starbucks locations around the county. You can view the schedule of upcoming information sessions here.
Another upcoming way to support this organization is by attending their Voices for Children fundraiser at the Madonna Inn on December 7. Guests will enjoy festive music, a jewelry sale and hear stories of impact that CASA of SLO County is seeing in the community because of the support of volunteers and donors. Seating is limited, so call the CASA office soon to purchase tickets at (805) 541-6542.
And through the end of 2017, there’s another fun and easy way to support this organization: order a beer! Eureka! San Luis Obispo has selected CASA of SLO County as the beneficiary of their “Cheers for Charity!” fundraiser, meaning that for every Pay-It-Forward Pale Ale purchased at Eureka!, two dollars will be donated to CASA of SLO County. Now that’s something we can drink to.
With the support of the National CASA network, CASA of SLO County has been operating in our county for 24 years. Learn more about the work of this organization at www.slocasa.org.