CASA Up Close | March 2021
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! Use these quick links to get involved.
In this Issue
  • Welcome New CASA Volunteers
  • Information Sessions - by Zoom!
  • Training Dates - by Zoom!
  • Amplify Austin
  • Advocate Spotlight
  • Kids Helping Kids
  • CASA Day at the Capitol
  • Invite CASA to Your Speaker Program
  • Continuing Education Highlight
  • Monthly Giving
  • CASA Yard Signs
  • Champions fore Charity
  • CAMP CASA
  • Vir
  • Child Abuse Prevention Training
  • Community Support
  • Events Benefiting CASA
Letter from the Executive Director
CASA Volunteers are proven to improve the lives of foster children and to prepare them for life after they leave care. One thing that makes the CASA program and our volunteers so effective is our network of partnerships with the many agencies in our community. CASA would like to take a moment to express our gratitude for social workers during March which is National Social Work Month.

We see firsthand how social workers juggle multiple cases, work in high-stress circumstances with families facing serious health and legal issues, and stand on the front lines to safeguard children by ensuring they and their families have the necessary resources to heal. Social workers sometimes see the worst of humanity, and yet they keep an optimistic view that, with support, people can change their lives.

Every day, CASA volunteers observe social workers doing very difficult jobs with skill and compassion. CASA knows they are an important piece in the network for protecting our children.

CASA of Central Texas extends our thanks and appreciation to the local social workers whom we work with every day as well as all those across the country who are working to care for our children.
Norma Castilla-Blackwell
Executive Director
CASA of Central Texas
Welcome New Advocates
We welcomed our first volunteers of 2021 in February!
Thank you to these wonderful community members who completed an intensive 42-hour training and stepped up to be a voice for children in the court system.
Please welcome Ana Robles of Comal County, Celeste Folse of Comal County, Janet Lott of Comal County, Cher Flores of Hays County, Constance Grieger of Caldwell County, Terra Weden of Hays County, Iona Olive of Hays County, Kristina Huynh of Hays County, Darilyn Perez of Comal County, Connie Sheppard of Comal County and Lisa Perez of Hays County.
Information Sessions Online
Want to learn more about the role of a CASA Volunteer?

Join our 30-minute information session and hear how our volunteers advocate for children who have experienced abuse and neglect.

Just pick a time that works for you and use the link to join us on Zoom!
If these times don't work for you, contact Eloise Hudson and she can do a 1-1 with you at your convenience!
Meeting times:


Mondays
10 a.m.

Wednesdays
5 p.m.

Tuesdays and Thursdays
Noon
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Use this link to join us at any of the times above!

Become a CASA Volunteer
Advocate Training Courses
Held online via zoom

Wednesdays
March 31 to April 28 
5 pm – 8:30 pm

Thursdays
April 1 to April 29  
5 pm – 8:30 pm

Saturdays
April 3 to May 1
9 am – 12:30 pm

Application deadline prior to each cycle is two weeks before start of training.

One-hour pre-training interview to occur at least one week before start of each training cycle. Mandatory 10-hour online class to be completed during the training cycle.

For more information on training courses, contact Brandi Raschke at 512-392-3578, 830-626-2272, or by email.
Amplify Your Donations

Central Texas unites on this incredible community-wide virtual fundraising event by amplifying causes near and dear to their hearts. We hope you are planning to join in!

The 9th annual Amplify Austin will take place from 6:00pm on March 4 to 6:00pm on March 5, 2021. There are a variety of ways in which you can support us on the big day:

First, save the fundraising date or make an early gift here. Sharing our social media posts also greatly assists us in meeting our goal. Lastly, you can take it a step further by becoming a fundraiser on behalf of CASA! Click on ‘Fundraise’ at the top of the page to get started here.

All of your efforts will not only empower voices for children, but will assist CASA in providing relief to the children and families we serve enduring the impact of the recent winter storms that wreaked havoc across Central Texas. If you’d like to make a gift early, you can donate here today!
Advocate Spotlight
Mary Eisenberg accepted her first CASA case in 2011 and it lasted over three years!

Mary is extremely dedicated to preserving and serving Central Texas families and it's a real honor to work with her. She is a strong advocate for our children and she also assists with training and events for CASA of Central Texas. She is now assigned to her sixth case with four little ones.

Mary taught school for 35 years and substituted for 10 years. She currently spends time volunteering with CASA, the library, and most recently answering calls for a local vaccine phone bank.

Her husband is a talented musician and frequently plays in Austin. Their children followed in their parents’ foot-steps with much accomplishment and interest in child welfare and music. Their daughter Rebecca is a licensed social worker and therapist with the Child Witness to Violence Project at Boston Medical Center, and recently married. Their son Ben toured many countries while playing music and currently resides in Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam where he works in the tech industry.

Our appreciation for Mary is tremendous. Her advocacy for children and families is highly regarded by all parties on her cases. We hope Mary is a CASA for many more years to come!
Kids Helping Kids
Hailey is only 8 years old and decided she wanted to do something to help other children. Her mom Angela said it started with one box.

"She came to me today with a box sweetly wrapped and filled with clothes, chocolates, and a few of her own dollars. She informed me she would like to make many of these boxes and give them to kids who need hope so they can smile."

With help from the community, that one box of items turned into 40 filled backpacks for children!

"I informed Haley about your mission, and we were thinking it would be a great box of hope for the kids to receive when they meet with your volunteers."
Thank you, Hailey, for thinking of the children we serve!
Haley and her sister Laurel dropping off their donation. Even through masks, their faces shine!
Legislative Advocacy: CASA Day at the Capitol
Winter storms and recovery curtailed efforts by our local legislative advocacy team (LAT) from CASA of Central Texas, but Texas CASA was able to proceed with the statewide virtual CASA Day at the Capitol on February 16 & 17. Voices were heard in Austin on issues related to funding and policy improvements to ensure the best protections for children who have experienced abuse and neglect: Collaborative Family Engagement, Community Based Care, Kinship Care, Disproportionality & Equity, Medical/Medicaid Enrollment, Juvenile Justice, Substance Abuse Disorders & Mental Illness, Educational Outcomes, Human Trafficking, and Trauma-Informed Care. View a one-page summary of ongoing priorities for the 87th legislative session.

We thank the senators and representatives of our Central Texas area (Caldwell, Comal, Guadalupe and Hays Counties) who extended their willingness to meet with and listen to our advocates – and we thank them in advance for their support of legislation which will help CASA programs and our children.

Senator Judith Zaffirini | Texas Senate District 21
Senator Donna Campbell | Texas Senate District 25
Representative John Cyrier | Texas House District 17
Representative John Kuempel | Texas House District 44
Representative Erin Zwiener | Texas House District 45
Representative Kyle Biederman | Texas House District 73 
Invite CASA to your Speaker Program
Are you planning programs for your 2021 meetings? Need a speaker? CASA has you covered!

Invite CASA to be your program speaker and learn about child abuse trends in the community, and how CASA volunteers are getting involved.

A CASA representative would be happy to attend your meeting to speak for 10 minutes or 30 minutes, whatever meets your program's needs!

Contact Eloise Hudson if you are interested in having CASA share with your group.
Still meeting virtually? Not a problem! CASA can also join your video conference meeting, too!
Continuing Education for CASA Volunteers: PAL
In February, Michael Elliott, DFPS Preparation for Adult Living (PAL) Specialist, provided an overview to CASA Volunteers about the benefits that are offered to youth, at least 14 years of age, in substitute care.

PAL benefits help youth prepare for their inevitable departure from DFPS. Services include an independent living skills assessment, 30 hours of life skills training classes, tuition and fee waiver (a lifetime benefit when the youth enrolls in a college credit course before they turn 25), aftercare room and board assistance, and case management services.

In the second hour, Brandi Purswell and Drew Melton, ETV Specialists with BCFS Health and Human Services, provided information on the Education Training Voucher (a need-based grant to cover living expenses), transition centers, aftercare case management, college liaisons, Supervised Independent Living at the colleges, and other college resources.

The takeaway message is to ensure our older youth are knowledgeable about the benefits and that youth are connected to PAL and ETV specialists so they can take full advantage of these valuable resources.


All CASA of Central Texas Volunteers are required to complete 12 hours of Continuing Education annually.
Monthly Giving

Forgotten your New Year's resolution already?

We have something easy to keep it going!
Click HERE to set up a monthly gift to CASA!
CASA Yard Signs
Show your support for CASA right in your own front yard or place of business! CASA yard signs are now available! Help us spread the word!

If you know someone in your neighborhood or circle of friends who would like one, grab a handful!

To pick up a CASA of Central Texas yard sign, please email Eloise at ehudson@casacentex.org.
Fundraising fore CASA
Champions fore Charity offers CASA donors a special opportunity for their donation to grow even further. Because Champions fore Charity is a no-cost fundraising program, they are committed to giving 100% funds raised back to CASA plus a 7% match on top of donations.

For donors, the excitement doesn’t stop there! When you give to CASA through Champions fore Charity, you will be entered into a drawing to win a $100 Valero gas gift card. You will also have a chance to guess who the Champion of this year’s Valero Texas Open will be for an opportunity to win a Stay & Play Gift Package to TPC San Antonio and the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa.

Champions fore Charity allows local charities and schools to fundraise through the annual Valero Texas Open being held March 29 to April 4, 2021. Online giving is open now until the end of the tournament. Become a champion today by making a donation!
Save the Date - CAMP CASA
It is with great pleasure that CASA of Central Texas is hosting
our annual fundraising celebration!

You are invited to Camp CASA, Where All Kids Deserve to be Happy Campers!

We truly appreciate your support and hope you join us for this evening to benefit the children in our communities.

August 20, 2021 at 6:30 pm
The Chandelier of Gruene

HONOREES
Caldwell County - Leonard Germer
Comal County - Belinda and Ron Frisk
Guadalupe County - Linda Douglass
Hays County - Laura Dupont

Sponsorship and ticket information Here
Thank you to our sponsor
Stargazer
Walk. Run. Thrive
Walk or run anywhere to help children and youth thrive.
On May 1-2, 2021, join supporters across the nation for Walk. Run. Thrive., a virtual event to raise awareness for the National CASA/GAL Association for Children and its nationwide network of programs.

Walk. Run. Thrive. is a virtual event. Rather than traveling to one central location on a specific race day and time, you can participate however you want and from wherever you are. You get to choose your own day, time and pace. 

As part of your registration, you will receive a special Walk. Run. Thrive. shirt. Wear this shirt on your own personal race day to help raise awareness of our vital mission. Ask others to register and participate in this event with you, virtually or at a safe distance.

Whether you challenge yourself to a 5K or take a leisurely stroll through you're neighborhood, you will make an impact. However you choose to participate, you will become part of something bigger. You will be a visible part of our nationwide movement of individuals who are making a difference in the lives of children who have experienced abuse or neglect.

Join us as we walk (or run) to help children thrive.
Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Training

Child sexual abuse is an adult issue. One in 10 children in the U.S. will be sexually abused before the age of 18. Darkness to Light ® believes that adults are responsible for the safety of children and that adults should be taking proactive steps to protect children from sexual abuse.

FREE TRAINING OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
Using an evidence-informed approach, attendees will be provided with simple and practical actions to prevent, recognize, and react responsibly to child sexual abuse. This is a free training for any community member who has interactions with children in various community settings. We should strive to not only protect our own children, but all children in our community.
This training will be offered by an authorized facilitator on the fourth Friday of each month in 2021. If this schedule does not work for you, you may schedule a different date. Please encourage your colleagues, friends, and family to attend this two-hour training with you as it will lead to an improved learning experience through impactful discussion.
Community Support
CBE Companies in New Braunfels provided support to CASA through their Casual for a Cause donations program
Events Benefiting CASA

CASA of Central Texas welcomes community initiatives to help promote awareness and funding for our program. By taking on this type of project, event organizers assume the responsibility of creating a successful event without a significant level of assistance from CASA. All special events and fundraising efforts conducted to benefit CASA are run by financially responsible and reputable organizations and individuals motivated by a genuine desire to help CASA. If you are interested in hosting a third-party fundraiser to benefit CASA, please review these guidelines.
CASA of Central Texas, Inc. | 830-626-2272 | info@casacentex.org | www.casacentex.org