The Third District of CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) recently celebrated their Volunteer Recognition Banquet to honor the 29 highly trained and dedicated volunteers who have represented 50 Jackson County children.
CASA volunteers speak for the best interests of abused or neglected children who find themselves in the judicial system, making their wishes known to the judge and all parties on the case.
Since the establishment of a CASA office in July 2002, four classes have graduated the required training and begun their representation of these child victims. Most volunteers are assigned one case which may have one child or several siblings. The volunteer continues on the case until the child is returned home because the conditions have been corrected or a different safe and permanent home can be established through guardianship or adoption. Volunteers give unselfishly of their time, resources and love -- believing that all children have the right to a safe, permanent home in which to grow and mature. Their involvement makes a difference in the lives of the children they represent.
Among those present to honor the volunteers was Mayor T.L. Gramling and his wife Nelda, Chief of Police Mike Patterson and his wife JoAnn, members of CASA's board of directors John Phelan and his wife Denise, Randy Cumby and his wife Kyle, Tricia Latham and Altus Air Force Base representative Nancy Stingel.
Executive Director Shirley Brejcha introduced the program and each volunteer who have been a part of the agency.
Oklahoma CASA Executive Director Anna Naukam spoke favorably about the accomplishments the program and volunteers have attained in so small amount of time since its beginnings. She presented each volunteer with a CASA pin.
Texas/Oklahoma District Governor of Kiwanis International Darrel Booth was the guest speaker and applauded the efforts of the volunteers for their dedication to helping children.
He encouraged the community to support local CASA program to benefit the children. Booth, a CASA volunteer himself, has taken the CASA program message to the Kiwanis groups in Texas/Oklahoma region, encouraging fellow Kiwanians to support local CASA programs either financially or by becoming volunteers themselves.
Booth presented each volunteer with a carnation.