1/2
CASA_Banner4.png

Dallas CASA Breaks Past Records With The Highest Number Of New Volunteers In 2020

With North Texas thawing out, the good news keeps rolling in. This time it’s from Dallas CASA.

Despite the state of the past year’s COVID-19 slam with all its social distancing, masks and virtual relationships, Dallas CASA “recruited the highest number of volunteers to advocate for children in foster care in our 40-year history.”

The number of new volunteers was a record-breaking 472 folks who were recruited, trained and sworn in to advocate for Dallas-are children in the foster care system.

According to Dallas CASA President/CEO Kathleen M. LaValle, “Dallas CASA has always been special because we serve in Dallas, a city of people who care deeply for each other. That citizens of Dallas would respond to a global pandemic with a surge of energy to serve the most vulnerable among us is truly a testament to our community and its priorities.”

Marshall.JPG

KATHLEEN M. LAVALLE*

CYNT MARSHALL**

JANICE Z. DAVIS***

To adapt to the new world of the pandemic, Dallas CASA “quickly and effectively transitioned the agency’s 30-hour, in-person training program to a robust, highly-interactive program that combined on-line learning with interactive Zoom sessions and one-on-one online interactions between staff and trainees. After completing training, volunteers were sworn in by judges during online court sessions and were then available to be appointed to Child Protective Services (CPS) cases.”

Among the new advocates were Dallas Mavericks /Dallas CASA Vice-Chair and Chair-Elect Cynt Marshall and Dallas CASA Board Member/Finance VP Janice Z. Davis, who has already been assigned her first case.

As Janice pointed out, “What drew me to Dallas CASA is the belief that our children deserve our very best. An investment in young people today is ultimately an investment in the future of our city. We want every child to dream big.”

And the new advocates are needed more than ever. From April 2020 to September 2020, child abuse reports soared above 50%. The Dallas County Child Welfare Board unfortunately reported that “the seriousness of reports and the severity of child injuries have increased since the onset of the pandemic.”

Last year, nearly 3,400 children were served by Dallas CASA and its 1,500 volunteer advocate.

While it’s great that the 2020 sign-ups were record breaking, the pandemic is still in place and additional CASA volunteers are still needed.

* Photo credit: Kristina Bowman
** Photo credit: Kim Leeson
*** Photo credit: Rosanne Lewis

 Dallas CASA’s blog, we’re hearing from Cynt Marshall. A Dallas CASA board member since 2014 ~ https://www.dallascasa.org/dallas-casa-board-member-cynt-marshall/ 

Cynt Marshall tells Her Story

Picture a run-down, abandoned hotel. In one of the rooms is a nine-month-old baby lying on the floor, hardly clothed, with his nine-year-old brother taking care of him. Imagine the feelings of the nine-year-old as he looks out of a dirty window and sees his mother being taken away by police. Move your eyes around this dingy hotel room with the nine-year-old as he is searching for food for himself and his baby brother. Take a look at the toaster oven that is being used to keep the baby boy warm. Picture the nine-year-old serving as the sole caretaker of his brother until someone finally tells the police that their mother left two boys in the room at the hotel. Picture the despair, relief and sadness on the face of the nine-year-old when they are finally rescued.​

Now picture a little girl who is less than one day old and weighs less than two pounds lying in a hospital with her mother nowhere in sight. Imagine a mother giving birth and walking out of the hospital that same day, leaving her premature and very sick daughter. Imagine this woman marching toward the front door, never looking back and never to return for her baby. Picture the baby girl being cared for and named by the nurses. They named her Smalleisha. “Small” because she was premature; “eisha” because she was black.

 

And, now, picture a 12-year-old girl being forced to eat a peanut butter sandwich alone in the pantry while the boys in her family eat turkey and dressing on Thanksgiving Day. Imagine the despair, the heartbreak, the confusion, the pain for these children. These are my children. That nine-year-old boy, that tiny baby girl and that mistreated 12-year-old are mine. I told you the stories of my three children. My husband and I were blessed to adopt them with the help of lawyers and judges and, yes, CASA volunteers. These honeys were kept as safe as possible because of people who care.

I got involved with Dallas CASA because I care about the children in our community. The children Dallas CASA serves are thrust into a bewildering world of well-intentioned strangers – people who mean good for them – where the only thing that is certain about their future is uncertainty. They are scared and they are confused. CASA volunteers help children navigate this very grown-up process. They serve as the eyes and ears of the court so that a safe and permanent home might be found.

As my own life has shown me, good things can often come out of bad things. Sometimes the light at the end of the tunnel is a train. But with the help of just one person who cares about you, you can get through those bad things.

Dallas CASA volunteers are truly everyday heroes, making good things happen for children one at a time.

Cynt-Marshall-blog.jpg
Cynt as MC at CASA 2018.jpg

Cynt Marshall is kicking off the Champion of Children Award Dinner honoring The Meadows Foundation at The Fairmont Dallas