October 2013  

CASA Up Close

Welcome to another edition of CASA Up Close Monthly. Below you will find information about our supporters, upcoming events, training opportunities and more. Please feel free to contact CASA for more information about anything you read. And, as always, thank you for your continued support.

CASA of Central Texas


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

Every child has the right to a safe, nurturing, permanent home.
Letter from the Executive Director


A CASA for Every Child



      When I came to CASA of Central Texas in 2003, we were providing CASA volunteers to 43% of the children who were in State care.  This was something to be proud of, but I still thought about all those children who did not have a voice in court.  I am proud to say that during my 10 years as an executive director, our volunteer numbers have steadily increased.   In 2012 we served 48% of the 780 children who had suffered abuse and neglect so severe that they were taken in to state custody.  A great accomplishment, but that left 408 children still without a CASA.

      Our belief is that by matching one advocate to one case, we can provide the best guardian ad litem services possible to each child we serve.  However, this limits us in being able to serve more children only when we have enough trained, available advocates. 

      As a former volunteer advocate, I know what a difference it can make in a child's life to have an adult who is looking out for their best interest.  I strongly believe that every child in state care deserves a CASA.  It is this belief that keeps me working toward the goal of serving 100% of children in State care.

      This is possible, but we need the help of the community.  We need more people willing to commit to helping these children. Simply put, we need more volunteers. 

      I urge you to consider joining one of our upcoming training courses and becoming an advocate.  I also ask that you spread the word about this need for more volunteers to your friends, family and coworkers.  There are many who would make great volunteers, but they do not know the opportunity to help a child is available through CASA.

     CASA of Central Texas will continue to work toward the goal of serving 100% of the abused and neglected children in State care. Will you help us reach this goal?





Norma Castilla-Blackwell 

Volunteer Voices

John Nutting, CASA Volunteer
from Comal County.
Farewell to Longtime Advocate 

Following his retirement and move back to Texas, John Nutting became a CASA volunteer in 2006.


"I had always done volunteer work with young people throughout my corporate career.  I investigated CASA and was impressed with its mission."


John has been an advocate for two children during his seven years with CASA.  His second case was successfully closed this August with the adoption of 8-year-old David.

"I enjoy being a part of an organization that tries to make a difference in the lives of children who were thrown into a system they have no control over. "  

With the close of his second case, CASA of Central Texas bids farewell to John as he pursues other endeavors in his retirement.

"The time I spent as a volunteer was a very worthwhile seven years.  I believe that I gained as much or more from the experience as the young men I volunteered for."

Welcome New Advocates

New CASA Volunteers Ready to Go!
CASA's 11 newest advocates were sworn in on October 18th.

(Pictured l-r)
Rebecca Floyd of Guadalupe County
Sharon Frels of Guadalupe County
Monica De La Rosa of Hays County
Catherine Pearson of Caldwell County
Judge Melissa McClenahan
Tahlia Stewart of Hays County
Beverly Millwee of Hays County
Billy Millwee of Hays County
Henry Ackerman of Comal County
John McGee of Hays County
Gillian Siemens of Guadalupe County
Mary Hodges of Guadalupe County

Upcoming Information Sessions
 casa 25

CASA can also
bring these information
sessions to you,
just give us a call!
You are Invited to a CASA Voices Tour
Learn about CASA and the work our advocates are doing in the community.  Join us on the 1st and 2nd Wednesdays of each month for a one-hour "virtual" tour of our mission.  Open to everyone, bring your friends, family and colleagues and we will provide lunch! 


 New Braunfels CASA office 


  Wednesday, November 6th - Noon 


  San Marcos CASA office 

Wednesday, November 13th - Noon


Lunch provided by Fox's Pizza Den in New Braunfels
and Chick-fil-A in San Marcos.

Please RSVP to Ali Wilkinson by e-mail or at 830-626-2272.

Save the Date


State Rep Kuempel
State Rep. John Kuempel, CASA 2013 Honoree 

CASA's Superstar Talent Showcase

Honoring State Representative John Kuempel.  


Join CASA for an evening of fun, food and drinks, live music and entertainment.   

Thursday, November 7, 2013
6:30 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.
Texas Agricultural and Heritage Center- Big Red Barn
390 Cordova Road
Seguin, Texas 78155

To purchase tickets online, click here

Sponsored by:
Guadalupe Regional Medical Center

Tickets also available at:
D&D Farm and Ranch
The First National Bank
Gift and Gourmet
El Olvido Hacienda Mexican Restaurant
Keller-Williams (McQueeney and Seguin)
Seguin Chamber of Commerce


Holiday Toy Drive
Participate in CASA's Holiday Toy Drive


This holiday season, CASA of Central Texas is collaborating with local organizations to provide holiday gifts for abused and neglected children. This annual project is a wonderful opportunity to extend the giving tradition to children in our community.  We hope that your organization will join us in our goal to provide a gift to all of the abused and neglected children that CASA serves.  


Organizations, employee groups, churches and individuals may participate.  During the first week of November, CASA will provide you with first names, ages and gift ideas for children in our program.  This information will come on a small star-shaped paper that can be displayed on a Christmas tree or another visible area.  Your members can select a name, purchase a gift and drop it off (with the star attached for identification) at your organization.  CASA staff will collect the gifts in early December and our volunteers will distribute them to the children.    




If you are interested in participating in the Holiday Toy and Gift Drive, please contact DeAnna Curcio by e-mail  or at (830) 626-2272.

Upcoming Volunteer Trainings
Make a Difference in the life of a child,
become a CASA Volunteer

Help us get the word out about these trainings!
If you know someone who would make a great
CASA volunteer, please share these training dates.

Nancy Deckard CASA of Central Texas Advocate since 2005


New Braunfels CASA office


January 15th to February 12th  


1 p.m. to 5 p.m.  



San Marcos CASA office


January 18th to February 8th
8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

  To learn more about training sessions, contact Training Coordinator Debbie Haynes at 512-392-3578 or by e-mail.


More on becoming a volunteer here.
Permanency Luncheon

Advocates Honored at Luncheon

This year's Fall Permanency Celebration was held 
on October 7th and honored advocates whose cases recently 
closed or achieved permanent outcomes.

Through the efforts of these advocates, children were safely reunified with their parents, were permanently placed with safe relatives, and were adopted into new families. CASA volunteers also advocated for older youth, guiding and preparing them for independent living as young adults.  

Advocates gather to be recognized for their dedication in helping the abused and neglected children in Central Texas.

Advocates honored for their work:

Joanna Baugh
Mary Hitch
Tracy McGinty
Pauline Orounyehu
Tracy Simmons
Nancy Deckard
Don Hoffman
Jerry McHugh
Caitlin Pearce
Lisa Tanksley
Lorie Donley
Bill Hull
Mary Jo McLaughlin
Tom & Diane Purdy
Maria Watkins
Linda Elliot
David Kaufman
Jessica Mejia
Laurie Powell
Sarah Wells
Charles Ellis
Margi Kornek
Suzette Molina
Pam Rackler
Arthur Wilson
Becky Freitag
Petra Landry
Jennifer Morrison
Sam and Diane Roberts
Ted & Nancy Zahorski
Joan Guzaldo
Carlotta McAllister
Melissa Murphy
Jimbo Scarborough

Fran Hargrove
Sara McCaffery
John Nutting
Barbara Scott

Can you see yourself in this picture?  Click here to become a CASA.

  Special thanks to Pennington's Cakes for donating the cake for our celebration.
Community Giving

Five Years of Continued Support 
CASA of Central Texas received a donation from McCraw Oil and Kwik Chek Food Stores for the fifth consecutive year.  The donation comes from an annual golf tournament in which proceeds are divided among CASA programs with a Kwik Chek in their region. Kwik Chek has stores in Wimberley and Spring Branch.

(Pictured l-r) 
Volunteer Advocate Jeannette Sheridan, Kwik Chek District Supervisor Tom Richison, Executive Director Norma Blackwell, Development Director Tricia Schneider

Continuing Education

Volunteers Visit Local Shelters

CASA volunteers visited the Bulverde and New Braunfels campuses of St. Jude's Ranch for Children on October 11th. St. Jude's Ranch is a collection of residential foster care facilities in Texas and Nevada.

Volunteers toured the two facilities and learned about the different services offered at each location. 

The Bulverde campus is a group home campus for individuals and sibling groups. Services include therapeutic treatment, sibling preservation, and transitional living for foster youth 16 years and older. 

The New Braunfels campus focuses specifically on at-risk mothers ages 10-17.  Services include individual and group therapy, pregnancy and parenting courses, and transitional living.

For more information about St. Jude's Ranch, visit their website.

Upcoming Continuing Education Opportunity





Monday, November 4th, 2013

1:00 pm - 3:30 pm

New Braunfels Public Library 

700 Common Street 

 New Braunfels, TX 78130

Refreshments will be provided 


This presentation is designed to aid you in advocating for special needs children.  The panel of speakers will share their extensive professional and personal experiences improving the lives of children with developmental and intellectual disabilities.




  • Understanding rights of parents and procedural safeguards distributed at every ARD meeting to better advocate for your CASA child(ren)
  • Level of need reviews, assessments, and eligibility of special needs and developmental disability services
  • Overview of rights and laws of special education to ensure quality of services and life
  • Identifying essential resources and services available to children and families with developmental disabilities
  • Collaboration and information sharing with human services agencies, health and welfare providers, and school programs
  • Advocacy within compliance of state and federal codes and regulations
  • How to organize a special education program that encompasses effective parent, school, and community support


 If you plan to attend, please RSVP to Debbie Haynes at dhaynes@casacentex.org or 512.392.3578 by FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 1st.

Texas CASA Conference

State Conference Held in San Marcos

Texas CASA's annual conference was held October 24th through 26th in San Marcos at the Embassy Suites.


CASA of Central Texas Executive Director Norma Castilla-Blackwell (right) with volunteers. 

Executive directors, program staff, board members, judges, volunteers and other child welfare professionals gathered from across the state to learn and share information to improve advocacy for children. Workshops ranged from new laws affecting CASA to finding a child's family. 


Staff and volunteers gather during a break between sessions.
HD Supply and Texas Bar Foundation generously paid the registration fee for 20 CASA of Central Texas volunteers to attend the conference. 

Rosa Hernandez of Caldwell County, pictured left, was honored at the awards dinner for 16 years of advocacy work, the longest of any volunteer present at the conference.


Comal Cops for Kids


Kick off Thanksgiving Day with a Gruene Tradition:

2013 Gruene 5K Run/Walk and 1/4 Mile Kids Turkey Chase


Thanksgiving Day, November 28, 2013 
Sign-up & registration from 6:30 a.m. - 8:00 a.m. in front of the Gristmill.  Races begin in front of Gruene Hall

5K Run/Walk begins at 8:30am 
1/4 Mile Kids Turkey Chase begins at 10:00am    


The Comal Cops for Kids Foundation is a newly formed non-profit organization, designed to raise funds for the benefit of other charitable organizations that support law enforcement efforts to better serve the children of Comal County, Texas.
For more information, visit their website.

Social Media

Follow CASA of Central Texas online to get information
and updates throughout the month!

We have been on social media for a few years, but this year we are increasing our online efforts and we need your help.

Click the icons to follow us and help spread the word about CASA!

Like us on Facebook           Follow us on Twitter 

View our profile on LinkedIn          View our videos on YouTube

Community Support
Promote CASA at Your Business

Thank you to the following organizations and businesses for displaying CASA brochures in their buildings:

Broadway Bank 
Canyon Lake Animal Clinic 
Victor's Personal Training Center 

CASA of Central Texas is looking for more volunteers and you can help.

If you can display our CASA banner or brochures in your place of business to help recruit more volunteers, please contact Volunteer and Development Assistant Jerret Swierc at (830) 626-2272 or by email.

Upcoming Events


6th-      Voices Tour, noon
             New Braunfels CASA office

7th-      CASA's Superstar Talent Showcase
             Texas Agricultural Education & Heritage Center, Seguin

13th-    Voices Tour, noon
             San Marcos CASA office


4th-       Voices Tour, noon             
              New Braunfels CASA office 

              San Marcos CASA office         

14th-     Annual Advocate Appreciation Mixer
               Landmark, New Braunfels

Stay Connected! 

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Phone: 830-626-2272

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