“We could not make the impact we do without these dedicated volunteers.”
Carlos Chicas, Colleen Smith
When people think of volunteering, they often think of helping out for a few hours at the local animal shelter or food bank. But, the term volunteer means much more to the crowd of 270 who gathered at the Apollo on Emma in Springdale last week. The event was the Celebration of Success dinner held by CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates of Northwest Arkansas) CASA is a local nonprofit that recruits, trains, and supports volunteers to speak up for the best interests of abused and neglected children in the court system.
Each year, during National Volunteer Month, CASA of Northwest Arkansas hosts this event to thank the hundreds of community members who give their free time to help children in need.
Following intense screening and training, a CASA volunteer will play the critical role of ensuring a child’s needs are being met while in the foster care system. A CASA volunteer works directly with the child, biological and foster parents, attorneys, teachers, doctors, therapists, and the Department of Human Service to monitor the court-ordered case plan and protect the child’s best interests at all times. Throughout the case, the CASA is focused on making sure the child’s permanent placement (reunification with biological parents or adoption) will be safe and loving.
On average, a CASA volunteer provides 5 – 10 hours of advocacy a month and is expected to serve the case until it closes, approximately 15 – 18 months. “Their passion and commitment to brighter futures for these special children is why we host such an event. We could not make the impact we do without these dedicated volunteers,” says Crystal Vickmark, Executive Director of CASA of Northwest Arkansas.
Although there are nearly 300 CASA volunteers serving the region, there is a waitlist of more than 100 foster children who need advocates. There is a high need for bilingual volunteers. To learn more, visit www.nwacasa.org.