By Vanesa Brashier, firstname.lastname@example.org
More than 300 people turned out Saturday to the Boots and Bandannas gala to benefit CASA of Liberty and Chambers Counties. The event, held at the Dayton Community Center, is the organization’s biggest fundraiser for the year, so the funding raised is crucial in helping meet the needs of neglected and abused children in the two neighboring counties.
Kimberly Stephens, executive director for CASA of Liberty and Chambers Counties, said the gala also raises awareness in the community related to child abuse and neglect as well as CASA’s role in meeting those needs.
CASA (Court-Appointed Special Advocate) volunteers represent and advocate for a child as their case goes through the child welfare and court systems. They are considered to be the “eyes and ears” for the judge in child welfare cases.
“A lot of people don’t understand CASA’s role,” Stephens said. “CASA, when it gets involved, helps children who have been abused by someone in their own household.”
Last year, 119 CASA volunteers in Liberty and Chambers counties provided 9,000 volunteer hours to more than 260 children who passed through the local courts, Stephens said.
While CASA receives some funding from governmental grants, a lot of the organization’s financial backing comes from individuals and businesses in the communities they serve or from private grant foundations.
Each CASA volunteer must pass a stringent background test and complete 30 hours of training and 12 hours of continuing education before they can be assigned to represent a child or a set of siblings.
Like most volunteer-based organizations, volunteers are always needed. Anyone with an interest can contact CASA by sending email to email@example.com, calling 936-334-9000 or stopping by the office at 2015 Scout St., Liberty.
Saturday night’s gala was catered by Pappy’s Barbecue. Guests also bid on live and silent auction items that were donated by local individuals and businesses.