Casas

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Leadership and staff of local juvenile courts said they can’t thank Capital City Court Appointed Special Advocates enough.

But, they’re trying.

The nonprofit organization, which trains volunteers to advocate for abused and neglected children in courtrooms, held its second reception/celebration of its volunteers Thursday evening at Canterbury Hill Winery, 1707 Summit Drive, Holts Summit.

Capital City CASA director Gina Clement and Cole County Circuit Court Presiding Judge Jon Beetem presented each of the CASAs, including those whom he swore in about an hour earlier, with pins commemorating their efforts.

CASA is a volunteer-oriented organization made up of a network of people who believe society has a fundamental obligation to make sure children thrive and are treated with dignity and are kept safe.

Its volunteers, appointed by judges, advocate for abused and neglected children. They act as a voice for the children, and try to make sure children don’t get lost in overburdened legal and social service systems or languish in inappropriate group or foster homes. Volunteers remain on their clients’ cases until the children are placed in safe, permanent homes.

Six CASAs received five-year bars Thursday night — Jim Kemna, Allison Housewright and John Roush were on hand to accept the pins. Lisa Bax, Betty Groves and Curtis Scroggins will receive theirs later.

CASA has been a presence in Cole County courts for 10 years. Pam Rich and Lori Hodges received 10-year bars, having been with the organization since its beginning in the county. Chris Kratumann also has been with the organization for 10 years, but was not available for recognition Thursday.

Seven CASAs receive door prizes in random drawings.

Bonni Herman said she became a CASA in January 2019, just before COVID-19 broke out across the country.

She received an assignment right away — the child of a young mother who was trying to meet court requirements before being allowed to regain custody of her child.

The mother managed to get her child back.

“It was very rewarding. She did all the heavy lifting,” Herman said. “As soon as the case was over, they whacked me with another.”

She’s been on that case since April and has hopes for the family’s re-unification.

“I think it’s going to end well,” Herman said.

Herman took her friend, Adult Basic Literacy Education (ABLE) Director Felicia Poettgen, to the celebration.

Poettgen said she loves volunteering, especially for programs like ABLE, which serves many, many children.

CASA would be right up her alley, but her responsibilities with ABLE limit her time, she continued.

“I’ve been considering it for a long time,” she added.

Meanwhile, she’s got a lot going on at ABLE.

ABLE volunteers are going to be allowed back in schools Monday for the first time in about two years, so long as they wear masks and are fully vaccinated.

“A lot of kids have support at home,” Poettgen said. “We’re afraid (other) kids have fallen behind.”

Source : https://www.newstribune.com/news/local/story/2021/oct/22/courts-thank-their-casa-volunteers/893235/

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