CASA Up Close
CASA of Central Texas advocates for abused and neglected children in the court system by recruiting, training and supporting community volunteers.

     Welcome to another edition of CASA Up Close Monthly. Please feel free to contact CASA for more information about anything you read. And, as always, thank you for your continued support.
Letter from the Executive Director  

Excerpt from
Part Eight of our 12 part-series: A Year in the Life of CASA See this entire entry and previous entries in my
Executive Director Blog

The Real Impact:   
Real stories of volunteers making a difference for the children and youth.

     Last month I talked about the activities our volunteers do. But, really, the most important thing is how CASA advocacy makes a difference in children's lives. I asked my supervisors, who work directly with the volunteer advocates, to share a few stories of how they have witnessed CASA Volunteers impacting the lives of children. These stories will open your eyes to abuse suffered by children in our community, and also to your exceptional community members who go the extra mile to make sure every child has a chance to thrive in a safe, permanent home.

Names of the children have been changed to protect their privacy.
CASA Volunteer Melinda and child Chris-

     In 2014, Melinda began advocating for 13 month-old old Chris who was brought into care due to medical neglect.  He had a cleft lip, cleft palate, and amniotic band syndrome involving his fingers, none of which had been medically addressed. Melinda went frequently to Kerrville and San Antonio from her home in Comal County to attend Chris' medical appointments, developmental assessment appointments and surgeries. No matter how early in the morning, Melinda was there.  She established strong relationships with the medical professionals which enabled her to maintain consistent communication regarding his medical needs and how they were being addressed.  Now 3 years old, Chris was adopted in February of this year.  And, not to anyone's surprise, Melinda stood right by his side on that very special day.
    Read more real stories about our volunteers and the children on their cases in this month's ED Blog here

     These stories highlight just a fraction of the work our volunteers are doing in the community. Next month, read about how our growing area means the need for more volunteers-in part nine of our series, Data Underscores the Need: Statistics, numbers, trends and projections.
Thank you,  
Norma Castilla-Blackwell
Executive Director  
Show a "Hole Lotta Love" for CASA 


All proceeds benefit CASA of Central Texas  
October 30, 2017
River Crossing Golf Club, Spring Branch
11:00AM Tee Time     6:00PM Dinner & Entertainment 
Team and Sponsor registration is NOW OPEN!

E ARLY BIRDIE DISCOUNTS:  $75 discount for Team and $25 Discount for Individual Players registered by September 30th

Space limited to 40 Teams/120 players - Register early! 
Register and find details here.

Hole-in-one sponsored by 

Birdie Sponsors:
Fast Signs
McKenna Foundation
Perry Homes

Hole Sponsors:
Prosperity Private
RRR Reliance Residential Realty
Utility Engineering Group

More Sponsorships Available:
19th Hole Sponsor  $3,500
Eagle Sponsor  $3,000
Birdie Sponsor  $1,500
Hole Sponsor + team  $900
Hole Sponsor  $250
Team Registration (3)  $675
Individual Registration  $250

Special thanks to
More Advocates Ready to Serve 

Welcome to our newest CASA Volunteers!

Sworn in on August 30th were l-r, back row to front row:

Comal County Commissioner Donna Eccleston, Lori Largen of Comal County, Candace McKinnis of Comal County, Wendy Frye of Comal County, Mike Peebles of Comal County, Stephen Jones of Comal County, Donna Jones of Comal County, Karen Witteman of Comal County, CASA of Central Texas Board Member Frank Pereira.
Front row, l-r: Patty Cahill of Comal County, Cathy Peebles of Comal County, Judge Melissa McClenahan, Samantha Zamora of Hays County.
 Sworn in on August 23rd were l-r, back row to front row:  
CASA of Central Texas Board Members Frank Pereira and Seth Worley, Shawn Manning-Morin of Hays County, Paul Givens of Hays County and CASA of Central Texas Board President JoAnne Germer. 
Front row l-r: Kathryn Jones of Guadalupe County, Veronica Tejada of Comal County, Judge Melissa McClenahan, Brandy Hanks of Hays County and Rachel Fulk of Hays County.

Volunteer Voices
Lisa Metzler, CASA Volunteer since 2014

Why did you become a CASA? 
    After my Mom died four years ago, I needed something to do and I missed working with kids. I didn't want to go back to teaching, having been out for about 6 years, and CASA was something that I could use my training to help and contribute to kids in need of a voice.
What have you learned during your time as a volunteer? 
     There is no "typical" case...the similarity between cases ends after  "abused and/or neglected children", "foster care system", and "we advocate for the children".  After that, each case is as unique as the individual kids we serve.  Every case has its own story, a life, and a conclusion--hopefully as positive as we can make it--of its own.
What would you say to someone thinking about becoming a CASA volunteer?
     Plain and simple, I LOVE it. CASA gives me a sense of fulfillment, the feeling that I am contributing to the betterment of a child's life, but also that I am doing something positive that means something in the grand scheme of life. For those who are interested, who care about kids, and who have a passion for doing something of service to the larger community, CASA is certainly a way to do those things.  
Become a CASA Volunteer training
Nancy Deckard, CASA Volunteer

Training courses are ready for you!

San Marcos   
August 30 - September 27     
1 to 5 p.m.

New Braunfels
August 31 - September 28  
4:30 to 8:30 p.m.  
Check out our calendar for dates and times for the rest of the year and for information on how to get enrolled.

For more information on training courses contact Volunteer Coordinator Samantha Mundine Coleman at 512-392-3578, 830-626-2272 or by email, or click here to visit our website.

Training is required for all new Court Appointed Special Advocate volunteers. 
Our Volunteer Training Course is a 5-class series.
Continuing Education 

"Trial Preparation & CASA Testimony"
     On August 21st, Attorneys Shelby Griffin (Comal County Assistant District Attorney) and Tracie Wright-Reneau provided tips, resources, and examples to CASA advocates on how to best prepare for trial and provide testimony. Two perspectives were given: Prosecution by the Department of Family and Protective Services (represented by Griffin) and defense of the parents (represented by Wright-Reneau) in a parental rights termination trial.

     Tips from ADA Shelby Griffin in preparing for trial included: maintain a timeline of all your contacts and create a family tree to demonstrate your due diligence in seeking out potential relative placements. Shelby has submitted a CASA's family tree into evidence for trial.

     "We all have a feeling as to what is in the best interest of a child, but you have to be able to articulate WHY it's in the best interest...evidence is best."

     When CASA is testifying during trial, ADA Griffin advises, "don't let anyone make you mad. Stay calm, speak slowly, and take a deep breath."
    Tracie Wright-Reneau serves as Attorney ad Litem for children and parents. As a child's AAL, she does not advocate for the child's best interest - just for what the child wants. Therefore, she cautioned CASA volunteers that a child's AAL is not CASA's friend.

    Mrs. Wright-Reneau advised CASAs to be careful about pre-determination: make sure you know all sides and talk to everyone, especially parents! As a parent's AAL, she shared that her best tactic if CASA supports termination of parental rights, is to demonstrate that a CASA has not done their job, by either not investigating (not talking to parents regularly, not visiting the parents' home) or by pointing toward bias.
     Both attorneys also urged CASAs to review the Holley factors and to provide short answers during trial (which is especially appreciated by the judge). If elaboration or clarification is needed, an attorney will ask a follow-up question.
    Lastly, both attorneys applauded CASA for our court reports, which they read thoroughly to prepare for trial.

    CASA thanks both attorneys for their time and insight!

     The next CASA Continuing Education will be held on September 5th. Click here for more information. 
CASA of Central Texas Volunteers are required to complete 12 hours of continuing education annually.
Get Your Capes Ready!   
   Run, walk or fly to the 2017 CASA Superhero Run 5K and Kids 1K where you can be a superhero for children who've been abused or neglected. You choose what kind of superhero you will be: register for the race, donate to kids, fundraise for the cause, or do all 3!  

CASA Superhero Run - 5K and Kids 1K
Sunday, September 17, 2017
Domain Central Park - 11100 Alterra Pkwy, Austin

     Race day will feature our annual superhero costume contest, an obstacle course by BAM Academy to test your super strength and agility, special superhero guest appearances, villains to defeat, bounce houses, tasty food, amazing photo ops and lots of fun family activities!

     This year's run will be held at the Do
main in Austin and will benefit the CASA programs serving Caldwell, Comal, Guadalupe, Hays, Travis, and Williamson Counties.  Please visit the event website to register and for more information,
"Voices" Information Sessions Voices 

Want to learn more about the role of a CASA Volunteer?

Come to
ribbon our one-hour information session and hear how our volunteers advocate for children who have been abused and neglected.   
CASA staff and
volunteers will be on hand to share their stories and answer your questions.  

New Braunfels 
Wednesday, September 6th, noon 
CASA office

San Marcos 
Wednesday, September 20th,  noon  
Historic County Courthouse, 1st floor conference room

Please RSVP to Eloise Hudson by email or at 830-626-2272. 
Would you like to host a CASA Voices session in your town? Please contact us.
Lunch provided by Fox's Pizza Den in New Braunfels and Chick-fil-A in San Marcos. 
Viva Ole!  

     Mark your calendars for April 20, 2018! Our annual dinner event has been set and we look forward to seeing everyone at the Chandelier of Gruene for CASA and Los Compadres, "Viva Ole!"

    We had a great time at this year's event, CASA Corral, on April 7th. Thank you River Road Ice House for hosting. CASA honored Associate Judge Melissa McClenahan and Past CASA Board President JoAnne Germer. Thank you Beautiful Chaos Photography, Holly Panter, for capturing the event. See all the photos here.

Join the Team   
     Legislative Advocacy
CASA of Central Texas Volunteers with State Senator Judith Zaffirini during CASA Day at the Capitol.
is an important tool to shape the
language of bills before they become laws. CASA Volunteers can influence legislation through building relationships, personal contact via written letters or phone call invitations to our events.   

     The Texas legislators, House and Senate, meet once every two years for 140 days.  There are 31 senators and 150 representatives.  The regular session of the Texas legislators concluded with thousands of bills being introduced and debated. Many of them affecting the children served by CASA.  
    Once every two yeas the CASA of Central Texas Legislative Advocacy Team is mobilized. With guidance and information supplied from the Texas CASA policy team, fact-based letters can be written in your  spare time. You will have an impact on the lives of the 48,000 children in CPS care across Texas, not just the children you represent in court. During the time between sessions, local visits with the legislators take place.  
CASA of Central Texas Volunteers with State Representative John Kuempel during CASA Day at the Capitol.
      Why would the legislator listen to you? Good question!   The answer is: you VOTE! They also know that a CASA volunteer's only agenda is the child's best interests ... nothing is hidden.   They know you help move children more quickly from expensive foster care to a safe, permanent home.  This saves the State approximately $2,000 dollars per month, per case. They also know CASA volunteers see the child's case from beginning to final hearing ... our value is continuity.  We personally know the children's needs.  We are the judge's impartial eyes and ears and we make fact-based recommendations to the court in the child's best interest.

  The bottom-line is that we, CASA, need to be the premier group that law-makers look to for advice, based upon genuine, non-biased interest in the children we serve.   
     We are looking for a few good women and men to join our team prior to the next session.   Please contact volunteer LAT coordinator John Barthel at or CASA staff liaison Tricia Schneider at
A Million Thanks!    
     Last month, CASA received a grant award from the Kronkosky Charitable Foundation. CASA of Central Texas received our first grant from the foundation in 2001 and this most recent grant marked $1 million in total gifts received.

     We are proud to be supported by the foundation in our mutual interest to free children from abuse and neglect. 
August 2017
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Upcoming Events

Voices Tour in New Braunfels 
Noon -1 p.m.
CASA office

CASA Superhero Run 
7 a.m. 
Domain Central Park, Austin 
More info click here

Voices Tour in San Marcos 
Noon - 1 p.m.
Historic Courthouse
room 101

CASA Volunteer Training Begins - Saturdays 
9 a.m. - 2 p.m. 
New Braunfels CASA office


Voices Tour in New Braunfels 
Noon -1 p.m.
CASA office
More info click here

CASA Volunteer Training Begins
1 - 5 p.m.
New Braunfels CASA office

Voices Tour in San Marcos 
Noon - 1 p.m.
Historic Courthouse
room 101
Texas CASA Conference 
More info click here 
Hole Lotta Love Golf Tournament  
11 a.m. 
River Crossing Golf Club, Spring Branch 
More info click here


CASA Holiday Toy and Gift Drive 
More info here 

Voices Tour in New Braunfels 
Noon -1 p.m.
CASA office

Voices Tour in San Marcos 
Noon - 1 p.m.
Historic Courthouse
room 101
More info click here


Voices Tour in New Braunfels 
Noon -1 p.m.
CASA office
Advocate Appreciation Mixer 
6:30 p.m. 
Milltown, New Braunfels 
More info here 

CASA Of Central Texas Inc.