April 2014   

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 Perfect Match
     Spring is in bloom in Central Texas!  Our roadsides and fields have been covered with some of the most colorful displays of wildflowers that we've seen in years!  Communities are celebrating butterflies (Wimberley), wild rice (San Marcos), crawfish (New Braunfels), public health (Comal County), volunteerism (Schertz) and youth and children (San Marcos).  CASA has been an active participant in each of these festivals to support our local communities.  
    Coinciding with wonderful Springtime celebrations, CASA of Central Texas is excited to be sowing the seeds for the long-term sustainability of the CASA program in Central Texas. We are anticipating an announcement relating to this goal...watch for a special email from me next week.

    To all of you and yours...Happy Spring!  




Norma Castilla-Blackwell
Executive Director 

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.

Jeannette Sheridan, CASA of Central Texas Advocate since 2003


8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
May 3rd, 17th & 31st
San Marcos office


4:30 to 8:30 p.m.

May 14th through June 11th

San Marcos office 


1 to 5 p.m.
May 15th through June 12th

New Braunfels office 

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


For more information on becoming a volunteer, click here.
Volunteer Voices
Advocate Mary Hodges completed CASA training last October and is now an advocate for a 15-month-old girl.


  Children Deserve Love

"I came to CASA to show abused kids someone does care and they are worth loving."

"The best thing about CASA is seeing a child smile at you, a child that may have not had any reason to smile before."

"CASA is a voice for kids that have needed them for along time to tell the world 'we are here and need help and love'". 
Going Blue in April

Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness Month

Local government officials read proclamations throughout the month, officially recognizing April as Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness Month. Thank you for your support! 

Caldwell County
Comal County
Guadalupe County

Hays County

City of Garden Ridge
City of San Marcos

City of New Braunfels

City of Kyle
City of Seguin

City of Cibolo

Dedicated to the Children

Volunteers Honored for their Commitment

     Our Spring Permanency Luncheon on April 24th honored advocates who recently closed cases or achieved permanency for their children through reunification with safe parents, permanent placement with relatives, adoptions with new families and preparation for living as independent young adults.

    Altogether, 38 volunteers helped their CASA children and youth make significant steps toward safe and stable homes during the last six months.  We couldn't be successful without the CASA volunteers, their time, their sacrifices, their heartache and their love.  Thank you one and all! 

Case Supervisors shared stories about each of their advocates and how each one embodied the spirit of "fierce advocacy" for children (they also shared a playful one-upping about who has the cutest kids!).  Here are just a few examples of the kuddos and compliments about our wonderful volunteers (pictured above l-r).

Ralph Townsend: "The parents were initially opposed to CASA.  As they and the children got to know him, they saw how CASA could help.  The parents then fully committed to their services and prepared for the children to return home.  On the last day in court, they told the judge, "Mr. Townsend was a God-send in this trying time in our lives."

Kathy Dial: "Her case involved an enormous amount of work over a number of years and being a constant connection through turnover of five CPS workers and as the girls moved out of state and back again.  She has a great relationship with the girls and they really depend on her.  Kathy even was busy on the phone while vacationing in Costa Rica.  No matter where she is, or where her kids are, she is there for them."

Carolyn Liner: "DFPS was not initially recommending the placement and Carolyn got busy and visited the grandparents' home, getting to know them immediately.  She was instrumental and received compliments from the mediator when closure was achieved for two of the children.  Carolyn testified at trial regarding the third child and she will be seeing her through adoption."

Louise Spezia: "She was exceptional at communicating and working hands-on with the mother who had intellectual challenges.  Louise took her 4-year old and her mom school shopping and to apply for housing.  She coordinated with Head Start and other school resources.  She worked very well in conjunction with the caseworker and the attorneys."

Patty Willet and Beverly Hoffman: "You are a great team together and y'all write great court reports!"

Paula Gast: "In the multitude of people involved, she was one of only two people that the grandparents and children trusted.  She helped smooth communications early on and then hung on for a long time while the case was on appeal.  The grandparents finally were able to adopt!"

Rita Morieras: "With a mother who had severe alcohol abuse, Rita talked straight to her about her options.  Before advocating for the children to go back home, she kept a close eye on mom to ensure she was staying away from an abusive husband.  Mom publicly thanked Rita in court and asked her to stay in touch."

Melinda Rapp:
"She observed every child-parent visit and she fiercely advocated for mom to have more therapy and random drug tests.  Mom continues to be in touch after the case closed."

Angie Kolb: "Angie took this case on in the middle but recognized early-on that the mother was not participating as was needed.  Angie read through adoptive home studies and gave her opinion as to what she felt was the best home for the girls.  The two girls were placed in the foster-to-adopt home in January." 

Andrea Gindhart: "Andrea's case was one that seemed to never be able to achieve closure.  Through two trials and then an appeal, she was always there for the grandparents and all five kids."

Fran Mueller: "She attended every meeting for her teenager at the residential treatment center in Austin.  She continued to visit him during his transition back home...even teaching him some good manners along the way!"

Volunteers who also closed their cases not pictured are: Lesley Allen, Lydia Baese, Elizabet Barker, Bob Caldwell, Johanna Dailey, John Davis, Maxx Diamond, Bruce Drobeck, Phyllis Dye, Jennifer Fuhr, Rick Gindhart, Robin Hewes, Lauren Hinojosa, Don Hoffman, LaVonia Horne-Williams, Janette Lovett, Martha Marin, Sally McWithey, Nancy Pelton, Ursula Pinner, Phillip Porter, Lucy Rix, Karen Sleighter, Alicia Taylor, Dale Wood and Jeanne Worrell.

Thank you to Naegelin's Bakery for the beautifully decorated cake.
If you would like to show appreciation to our advocates by sponsoring our Fall Permanency Luncheon, please contact Jerret Swierc by email.
Upcoming Information Sessions
Lynette Barker, CASA of Central Texas Advocate since 2009
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 one of these upcoming dates - at a location near you - 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, May 7th - Noon  


  San Marcos-CASA office 

 Wednesday, May 14th - Noon


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

Please RSVP to Eloise Hudson 
by email or at 830-626-2272.  
Golfers Wanted

For more information or to register, click here.

San Marcos and Kylegolf
Chick-fil-A Hosting Golf
Tournament to Benefit CASA

May 16th 
Registration 7 a.m. 
Shotgun Start 8 a.m.  

Plum Creek 



Raffles, Mulligans, and "Hit the Cow" competitions available. If you hit the cow, you get free Chick-fil-A for a year. Lunch, awards and prizes following.

We are also looking for volunteers to help with the event. If you would like to help, please email Jerret Swierc. 
Thank You

l-r: CASA Board President JoAnne Germer, Executive Director Norma Castilla-Blackwell, and Board Secretary Kathy Dial.
CASA Board President JoAnne Germer presents The Honorable Todd Blomerth with his Big Voices For Little Texans CASA License Plate. 

To see more photos from the evening, 
view our album on Facebook here.
CASA Carnival for a Cause 

Thank you to everyone who joined us
Under the Big Top on April 4th and
made our event a success!

CASA Executive Director Norma Castilla-Blackwell and District Judge Bruce Boyer present The Honorable Jack Robison with his Big Voices for Little Texans CASA License Plate. 
County Criminal District Attorney Jennifer Tharp (right) and Comal County Chief Civil Prosecutor Tiffany Leal (center) surprise CASA Executive Director Norma Castilla-Blackwell with a donation on behalf of the Comal Cops For Kids Foundation.
On the Job Training



Texas State Students Learn About
Child Welfare Through CASA

  Jasmine Nguyen is a Social Work Junior at Texas State University and spent 50 hours interning with CASA this semester.

Why did you choose to intern with CASA?: I have a heart for children and it stirs me up whenever I hear about them being abused or neglected. Although I voice my concerns about child welfare, I wanted to take action.

Activities as a CASA intern
: I traveled with Casework Supervisors to CPS court cases, family group conferences, mediations, parent-child visits, courtesy visits, and community outreach events. My role was to observe in all settings, write many notes and discuss with CASA staff about any questions I have.

Something that stood out as an intern with CASA:
CASA not only cares about the clients, but also about the clients' families. CASA, CPS, attorneys, and the court system work together to allow parents to create their own list of services in order to become the parents that their child needs. If parents progress in their service plan, not only does their child's well-being improve, but their own as well. Reunification is always an option, yet I have met many unmotivated parents. In the end, they lose rights to their children. It really opened my eyes that these parents, despite how bad their mistakes were, were given another chance to win their children back, and with better circumstances, due to the aid they received. There is this stigma towards social workers where they snatch kids away from their parents. However, it is the parents who let their children go. 


Kashera Muhammad is a Family and Child Development Senior at Texas State University and spent 150 hours interning with CASA.


Why did you choose to intern with CASA?: I have always wanted to be a CASA. It was a way to do what I love, advocating for children while being involved in the community as well. 


Activities as a CASA intern: I completed the 40 hour CASA volunteer training, court observation and accepted a case involving two children under the age of two.


Something that stood out as an intern with CASA: CASAs look at all of the facts and, despite others interests, represent the best interest of the child.  



In addition to hosting interns, CASA of Central Texas

Program Director Kimberly Key is a guest speaker at Texas State University 


     For the past 14 years, Kimberly has presented to Child Welfare classes each semester to provide an overview of CASA, the role of CASA on a CPS case, and the challenges and benefits of being a CASA.

     The goal is to educate students who plan to work in the child welfare system about the role and importance of CASA, so they can better work together in the future. It also introduces students to CASA as an excellent volunteer opportunity to get hands-on experience with working with children, testifying in court, preparing court reports, and working a case in the child welfare system. 

Reaching Out

CASA Volunteers Help Spread the Word


April was a busy month with lots of outreach opportunities, and members of our CASA Community Outreach Team were on hand at proclamations, presentations, information tables and community events to share the need for more volunteers. We could not have attended so many events or shared such powerful stories if it wasn't for these volunteers!

CASA volunteers and Community Outreach Team members helped with the information table and crawfish races at the New Braunfels Crawfish Festival on April 26th. Pictured (l-r) are Calvin Rodriguez, Melinda Rapp, Sonya Rodriguez and Mary Hodges.

Thanks also to Bruce and Barbara Reichel, Jeannette Sheridan, Melanie Musgraves, Lorena de la Torre and Janette Lovette for representing CASA at community events this month!


If you are a CASA volunteer and would like to be a part of the Community Outreach Team, please join us for our upcoming quarterly meeting on May 15th at noon in the San Marcos CASA office. RSVP to Eloise Hudson by email or at 830-626-2272.

Special Gift

Birthday Presents for CASA


Rowan Edwards turned 3 this month and instead of gifts, guests were asked to bring household items to his party. The items were donated to CASA and will be given to homes where our children are placed with relatives who do not receive the same monthly stipend as foster homes. Thanks Rowan! 

CASA Continuing Education


  CEUpcoming Training For CASA Volunteers

Maximizing Child Well-Being: 
Understanding Culture & Cultural Needs



Dr. Angela Ausbrooks

Associate Professor, Texas State University


May 5th

 5:30 - 7:30 p.m.

Westover Baptist Church

San Marcos

Please RSVP to Jerret Swierc by email.

Volunteers are required to complete 12 hours of continuing education annually  

Turning Gruene Blue

CASA Blue Ribbon Fun Run

Thank you everyone who helped make our first
CASA Blue Ribbon Fun Run a success!
A special Thank You to our race coordinator, Lark Hooper.
The run was kicked off with a balloon release sponsored by Ronnie Dickens.

l-r: CASA Volunteer Melissa Murphy, CASA Executive Director Norma Castilla-Blackwell, CASA Volunteer Beth Polk,  Amy Rush, Ariel Ivey, Laura Parchman, CASA Volunteer Darcie Ivey, Linda Parchman, Marikka Strunk, Barbetta Womack and Robin McGrew.

Open Position

CASA Seeking Volunteer Coordinator


     CASA of Central Texas is seeking a full-time Volunteer Coordinator. This position coordinates prospective and current volunteers by providing information, collecting information, recruiting, and maintaining files and statistics for the CASA program. This position will support our Fostering Futures project which serves youth ages 14-21.


     Position requirements include a Bachelor's degree in social service related field or three years of experience in volunteer coordination and/or social work, the ability to communicate with supervisors and empower volunteers to be effective in their roles, experience in supervision, preferably with volunteers, a basic understanding of the dynamics of child abuse and neglect, and good presentation and communication skills. 


     To apply, please send your resume to info@casacentex.org. Applications will be accepted through May 9th. No phone calls please. 


Hit the Road with CASA

Order your license plate
CASA License Plates are Back


    The redesigned Big Voices for Little Texans license plate is now available for purchase through the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles.

     A portion of the proceeds from the license plate goes directly to our local CASA program, and you put our logo on the road.


Community Support


If you can display our CASA banner or brochures in your place of business to help recruit more volunteers, please contact Community Relations Coordinator Eloise Hudson at (830) 626-2272 or by email.


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  
Dr. Eugene Clark Library
Gracies Gold
Lockhart Senior Apartments
Lockhart Chamber of Commerce
Mason Lodge
Lockhart Family Medicine
Texas State Optical
Lockhart Senior Citizen Center
Luling Chamber of Commerce
Progressive Insurance 
Social Media

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

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

Upcoming Events


3rd-       New Volunteer Training Starts
              San Marcos CASA office
5th-       Advocate Continuing Education, 5:30 - 7:30
              Westover Baptist Church, San Marcos

      Voices Tour, noon
              New Braunfels CASA office

14th-     Voices Tour, noon
              San Marcos CASA office

14th-     New Volunteer Training Starts
              San Marcos CASA office

15th-     New Volunteer Training Starts
              New Bbaunfels CASA office

16th-     Chick-fil-A Cow Classic, 7 a.m.
              Plum Creek, Kyle 


4th-       Voices Tour, noon
              New Braunfels CASA office

11th-     Voices Tour, noon
              San Marcos CASA office

Stay Connected! 

Visit our 

Phone: 830-626-2272

Join our mailing list! 

Make a donation to CASA