From food and clothing assistance to educational and community programs, most charitable organizations fill physical or social needs that are easy to grasp.
For the volunteers of CASA, Court Appointed Special Advocates, there is a harsher reality that must be dealt with—a growing demand for assistance with abused and neglected children.
“I think we are remarkable because we serve a rural area, primarily Anderson, Henderson and Cherokee Counties, but we are ranked sixth in the state by number of children served each year,” said CASA of Trinity Valley Executive Director Emily Heglund. “The top five are Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Fort Worth and Austin, then there is us. Last year we were at 789 children, and we are seeing a 5-7 percent increase year over year of children coming into foster care. The need is astounding.”
CASA volunteers spend an average of 8-10 hours each month getting to know the individual situations and needs of each child, then acting as an independent advocate for the child’s best interests in the court system.
While some funding comes through state and federal programs, local donations are key to recruiting and training efforts for the volunteers.
“There is no way we could do what we do without the support of our local community,” Heglund said. “As with any 501(c)(3), there is a portion of funding we have to raise ourselves, and we are so grateful that we have the support in this region.”
For more information about CASA and volunteering in your area, visit www.texascasa.org.
For a full list of Operation Round Up grants from the TVEC Charitable Foundation, visit www.tvec.net.