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Court Appointed Special Advocates of Chautauqua County Inc. recently held its second swearing-in ceremony of 2015 by welcoming 12 newly trained CASA volunteers – court appointed special advocates for abused and neglected children.
The ceremony was co-officiated by Chautauqua County Family Court Judges Judith S. Claire and Jeffrey Piazza. This group of local community members will meet the great need for CASA volunteers in the northern part of the county.
During the ceremony, the judges spoke to the CASAs about the importance of their new role and the value it has to the court. Surrounded by family, friends, current CASA volunteers, CASA staff and board members, the volunteers took an oath of office and were declared officers of the court.
The newly appointed CASA volunteers joined 21 others who are advocating for children and youth in foster care. As officers of the court, they ensure that the children’s needs are recognized and their best interests are considered both in the courtroom and in the community.
CASA volunteers meet with the child regularly as well as gather information from people in the child’s life such as social workers, physicians and teachers; reporting their findings to the judge.
“Volunteers pledge to stay with each child until the case is closed and the child is placed in a safe, permanent home,” said Kathy Park, director of volunteers and programming at CASA of Chautauqua County. “The advocate is often the only consistent adult presence in the child’s life.”
After the conclusion of the swearing-in ceremony, CASA staff and board members recognized the volunteers during a holiday gathering with a small gift in appreciation for all they do for the vulnerable children in Chautauqua County.
Christmas gifts for children being served by the CASA program donated by The Theta Beta Sorority and The St. Issaac Jogues Alter Rosary Society were also presented to the volunteers. As well as these gifts, warm, hand-knit items such as hats, mittens, scarves and Peace Pals, crafted and donated by the Chautauqua County Community Pearls program, were also presented to the volunteers for children in the program. Donations like these serve to brighten the holiday for children in need.
CASA also accepted a generous donation of 20 backpacks filled with clothing, blankets, personal care items and toys from employees and friends of the Sweet Spot Cafe in Mayville. The employees forgo accepting tips and instead the tips are collected in a jar and used as donations for a different charity each month. Another 15 backpacks stuffed with school supplies, personal care items and toys were donated as well by the Chautauqua Region National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (CRNAIFA), longtime supporters of CASA through backpack donations and the annual Come to the Table fundraising event. Backpacks are given to children in the CASA program throughout the year as needs arise.
Anyone interested in learning more about CASA or serving on CASA’s upcoming Come to the Table fundraising committee is encouraged to contact Christina Marsh, director of operations and finance at 763-4132 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.