Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program board members met Monday to celebrate progress and set their sights for the coming year. New board members were welcomed and given a brief history of the CASA program including its beginning nationwide as well as its start in Jackson County.
The program was initiated in July 2002, according to executive director Shirley Brejcha, and it was a struggle to start a program where previously none existed. The program graduated its first group of 12 volunteers in March 2003 and has continued to train volunteers since that time. The next group will graduate at the end of this month.
"I am very proud of our volunteers and the board of directors," Brejcha said. "They work very hard and put in numerous hours to help the abused and neglected children of our area." Since its beginning, 33 volunteers have been trained and 67 children have been represented and helped by a volunteer child advocate.
"We as a board are excited about the expansion of CASA in our county," said board president John Phelan. "Our CASA program was the only one in Oklahoma to receive a New Start-up grant from National CASA." With the grant funds, a volunteer coordinator (Sherry Richardson) was hired to assist the director in managing the program and its volunteers.
"We have many ideas for the upcoming year to assist the program to grow, enabling the program to serve more children and perhaps expand into other counties in the future," said board vice president, Randy Cumby. One such idea will be the design of the "CASA" for CASA's playhouse to be built and donations received as a fundraiser for the playhouse. The community should be watching and waiting for this event.
As always, the program is in need of more volunteers. Interested people can contact the office at 482-4600 or stop by the NBC band, 123 W. Commerce, room #222 for more information.