CASA Up Close | July 2018
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

  • Upcoming Training Dates
  • Staff Anniversary Milestone
  • Continuing Education
  • Share Your CASA Experience
  • Information Sessions
  • A Hole Lotta Love for CASA
  • CASA Superhero Run
  • Support CASA With Your Credit Card
  • Texas State Intern
  • CASA Training and Support Center
  • Events Benefiting CASA
  • Community Support
Letter from the Executive Director
It is an exciting time for young adults who have just graduated high school. Being 18 and on your own is a milestone for many, but it can look very different for those who are leaving foster care for the first time in many years, sometimes the first time in their lives.

When advocating for children, CASA's goal is to see them placed in safe, permanent homes. This can mean reunification with family or seeing them adopted into a new and loving family. When neither of these options is possible, there is, sadly, another outcome: remaining in foster care until age 18. In this situation, the CASA volunteer serves a unique and important role by helping prepare these young people to become self-sufficient members of the community.
    If you were raised by loving parents, think of everything your parents did to prepare you to be on your own. They probably took you to get your ID or driver's license and made sure you had your Social Security card so you could become employed. They maybe helped you find your first job. They might have helped you open a savings or checking account or taught you how to responsibly manage a credit card. They visited college campuses with you and helped you apply for scholarships. They might have guided you towards a trade school or taught you about the benefits of joining the military.
For the children CASA works with, there is often no stable voice of encouragement. These young people have grown up just trying to survive their current circumstances. They have had little time or guidance to prepare for their future. How can we now expect them to be ready to live on their own and know how to survive in our vast world?

This is where CASA can help. The CASA volunteer not only provides these young adults with the necessary emotional encouragement to believe they can succeed, but also gives them guidance while developing from teenager to young adult and seeks out tools and skills-building resources that will increase the chances for a positive future.

I sincerely thank our advocates who work with these older youth. I truly believe that as our volunteers are providing critically needed support, they are in turn bettering our community.

Norma Castilla-Blackwell
CASA of Central Texas Executive Director.
Become a CASA Volunteer
Upcoming Training Dates

San Marcos  
September 12 - October 10
1 to 5 p.m.   

New Braunfels
August 2- October 11
4:30 - 8:30 p.m.

New Braunfels
September 15 - September 29
9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Check out our calendar for dates and times for the rest of the year and for information on how to get enrolled. Submit your application for an upcoming training here.

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

A complete Training Course is required for all new Court Appointed Special Advocate volunteers.
Dedicated to CASA
In June, Renee' Lehman reached a milestone that no one else has: 20 years as a staff member at CASA of Central Texas!

Why did you come to CASA of Central Texas to work?
I was a school teacher in inner city Houston for seven years after college and became aware of CASA then. I married, moved to Kerrville and was in a service organization where the Executive Director of the local CASA program came and spoke. I then became a volunteer and served on the Hill Country CASA Board of Directors. Shortly thereafter in 1997, my husband and I moved to San Marcos where I immediately went through CASA of Central Texas training and became a volunteer. After a few months, in 1998 I was asked to work for the program.
What is something you remember about your first few years here?
It was such a learning challenge dealing with court in four counties and two different CPS Regions, and we did not have a Child Protection Court. Our cases were heard in District Court which could be very frustrating. None of this deterred my eagerness because I loved every minute of it. One of the best things that happened is when they formed a new position for a family protection court Judge to specifically hear our cases. 
What memory stands out to you?
All of the wonderful volunteers I have worked with over the years and their amazing dedication to the children they served. There were many complicated, frustrating, and heart-breaking cases, but my volunteers never gave up. 
What positions have you held?
I have been a Casework Supervisor in all four counties we cover and in 2007, I started part-time as the Program Coordinator to which I continue to serve in this capacity. As the Program Coordinator, I plan our yearly April fundraising event and the December Advocate Appreciation Party. I also helped form the Wing Society and served as staff liaison to them.
What motivates you to continue working with the program?
I love this program (I think it is the best in Texas) and I truly admire the people I work with. I also love to be creative and have great fundraisers and volunteer activities!
Even when I was a casework supervisor, I planned advocate appreciation events…..the first one started out at my house as a summer cookout! We have definitely outgrown that now.
What is something you have seen change over the years?
Being the first casework supervisor (covering all four counties), working for three Executive Directors, having six different office locations (one of which was a temporary building with no bathroom). Wow, have we come a long way….we own an office in New Braunfels and will soon break ground on a building in San Marcos and we have close to 270 volunteers.

Anything else you want to add?
I am here today because of the mentorship of Kimberly Key, our Program Director, who I learned so much from when she started, over 18 years ago, and our supportive and awesome Executive Director, Norma Blackwell!
Continuing Education: Parenting Classes Information Session
On Friday, July 27, staff from the McKenna Center offered a presentation detailing the benefits and services offered by their Precious Minds, New Connections Parenting Program.

“60-70% of our referrals are from Child Protective Services,” said Jaci Gonzales, LMSW and McKenna Parenting Manager, with other referrals coming from hospitals, the school district or Head Start. The curriculum, Parents as Teachers (PAT) is used nationwide, is research-based, and even used in other countries.
The program is a home-visit program and individualized to each family. “By seeing each family in the home, we remove the obstacle of transportation issues,” said Paige Biersdorfer, Parent Educator.

Staff also meets with families after hours or even at the CPS office if the child is not living in the home at the time. 
Gonzales added, “Every child is different and has a different temperament style so one-on-one attention allows us to run developmental screens and connect the family with the appropriate therapies if needed.”
The presenters finished up by saying that the top goals of the program are to increase school readiness, improve parenting practices, detect developmental delays, and connect with resources.
Handouts from the presentation can be found in the CASA Office.
Share Your Experience
If you love our work, then tell the world! Stories about us from people like you will help us make an even bigger impact in our community.

GreatNonprofits – the #1 source of nonprofit stories and feedback – is honoring highly regarded nonprofits with their 2018 Top-Rated List. Won’t you help us raise visibility for our work by posting a brief story of your experience with us?

All content will be visible to potential donors and volunteers. It’s easy and only takes 3 minutes!

80% of donors say reviews influence their giving!

90% of donors say reviews help them better understand a nonprofit's work!
"Voices" Information Sessions
Want to learn more about the role of a CASA Volunteer?

Come to our one-hour information session and hear how our volunteers advocate for children who have been abused and neglected.
New Braunfels 
Wednesday, August 1st, noon
CASA office

San Marcos 
Wednesday, August 15th, noon 
Historic County Courthouse, 1st floor conference room
CASA staff and volunteers will be on hand to share their stories and answer your questions. 

Please RSVP to Eloise Hudson by email or at 830-626-2272. 
Lunch provided by Chick-fil-A.
Show a "Hole Lotta Love" for CASA
We are excited for the second CASA Classic golf tournament on October 29, 2018 at River Crossing Golf Club in Spring Branch.
Thank you to Corridor Title for presenting this event.

Sponsorships available.
Team registration is open.
Click here for all the details.

No Hero Too Small!
If you happened to catch Marvel's Ant-Man and the Wasp, you already know that heroes come in all sizes, and even the tiniest heroes can have a big impact!
At the CASA Superhero Run, our goal is to ensure that our community's littlest kids can grow up to be superhero adults someday, no matter what challenges they encounter in childhood. 
If you want to help children who've been through abuse or neglect grow up to be superhero adults, then register for or donate to our 5K and Kids 1K on  Sunday, September 16 at the IBM Client Innovation Center at Broadmoor Campus.

 As Dr. Pym tells Ant-Man referring to his child, "It's not about saving our world. It's about saving theirs." Your registration for or donation to the CASA Superhero Run is helping to save the world for our community's most vulnerable children.

You can be a superhero for children who've been abused or neglected. 
Register for the race, donate to kids, fundraise for the cause, or do all 3!

Registration and fundraising are now open at

Thank you for being a superhero for kids!
Learning Through CASA
Thoughts from our current college intern, Kirsten Fahnestock

Do you think people forget about these children?
Not consciously. The CPS system and the workers work very hard and very diligently to be involved in the children’s lives but there are so many and that is what is great about our program. Where a CPS worker may have several cases, I am assigned one family. My time is devoted to those specific children and making sure they are being cared for to the best of our abilities.

How did you hear about it?
I was in a Family Life Education class at Texas State and someone from CASA came to talk about the program and as I was immediately taken by it.

Why did you want to join the program?
I have always had a soft spot in my heart for foster children because some of my family members were adopted, and on top of that I felt that I could make a difference and do some good here. Also there are unfortunately a number of kids that could benefit from this type of help and I wanted to be that help. CASA is always accepting new volunteers and it would be a great program to join.
How is it working one-on-one with the families?
It's honestly really rewarding. It is different at first because you are this new face coming into their lives but once you earn their trust and get to work with them, it's an amazing feeling.

Anything else you would like to say?
Just how amazing the people involved in the program are. Whether it’s the kids who are really great or the workers who have dedicated a lot of time to this program, it's been really great to get involved in it.
Charge it for CASA
There is a new free and easy way to support our mission.

We are excited to share that we recently partnered with Charity Charge– a Public Benefit Corporation that offers a socially conscious MasterCard enabling you to support our cause at no cost.

By using the Charity Charge World MasterCard for your everyday purchases, you can earn 1% cash back as an automatic donation for CASA without changing your current spending habits.

The Charity Charge World MasterCard features:

No annual fee
Annual Percentage Rate lower than the national average– see full card details
Tax deductible donations to our nonprofit

You can turn your everyday purchases into everyday dollars for a cause you care about. To learn more about this new way of giving back, visit the Charity Charge website .

I f you are interested, simply apply here to start supporting our cause every day.
Support the CASA Training and Support Center
The journey to a new, permanent office located in San Marcos is progressing having recently completed the 100% Design Development stage of the project. Construction permits were filed with the city in June.

To be a part of this exciting addition to CASA of Central Texas, contact Tricia Schneider by email , or visit our website .
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 .
August 25
Belk Charity Sale

On Saturday, August 25th, The retail store Belk will hold a charity sale and part of the sales that day will be donated to local charities, including CASA!
You can purchase a charity sale ticket at the CASA offices for $5. Present the ticket at the register during the sale and receive a $5 off discount. tickets are available at our front desk in New Braunfels and San Marcos.
Community Support
CASA of Central Texas, Inc. | 830-626-2272 | |