Taste of Crawford County raises money and builds awareness for CASA
story and photos by Ruby Dean
Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) presented the 10th annual Taste of Crawford County on Tuesday (Aug. 10) at Van Buren High School with two seatings, one from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and the other from 5 to 7 p.m.
The two events served approximately 1,100 patrons. Tickets were $8 in advance until Aug. 6, and $10 at the door. Event organizers said the preliminary count showed the event raised more than $9,000 to support CASA.
Nineteen vendors came from all over Crawford County and provided a wide range of tastes. Attendees were given a small portion from each vendor. When it came to desserts, some had a hard time deciding which treat to eat.
What exactly is CASA? It is a volunteer program created in 1977 to ensure that abused and neglected children have a voice in court. This event was held to help raise money and as a public awareness campaign for abused and neglected children. CASA is a nonprofit organization dependent on fundraisers.
CASA volunteer advocates search for information, review records, and talk with parents, relatives, teachers, health care workers, and the child whose case they are assigned. They identify needed services, available resources and placement options. It doesn’t just stop there. They monitor the court-ordered services to see that they are carried out in a timely manner. They must also appear in court at each hearing with a report outlining concerns and recommendations to help the judge make decisions in the best interest of the child.
Daphne Richmond is a retired teacher and a two-year volunteer with CASA. She became interested in advocating for children when her son-in-law, who is a child psychologist, suggested it to her. She said “it takes the place of teaching, allowing her to still help children.”
All of this is on a volunteer basis, with no pay and any gas used to travel to these places they pay for themselves. To become a volunteer advocate, one must undergo 30 hours of training, complete a background check, and be sworn in by a judge. They then become officers of the court and are part of the national CASA.
The 20 volunteer advocates in Crawford County work with 58 children, which represents 55% of children in foster care in Crawford County. More volunteers are needed to serve all the children.
Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer advocate should contact Tawana Mattox, executive director, at (479) 474-8502 or email [email protected]