CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) of San Benito County recently hosted its annual appreciation event honoring volunteer advocates by thanking those dedicated individuals who are working to improve the lives of foster children.
To date, the organization has served 146 foster children. “To be an advocate is to give a foster child a voice,” shared Executive Director Esther Curtice. “These are the men and women ensuring the most vulnerable children in our community are cared for.”
In this past year alone, advocates collectively volunteered 3,000 hours of their time and drove nearly 20,000 miles. Their commitment has not go unnoticed: advocates were honored with certificates of recognition from State Senator Anthony Canella, presented by incoming Board Chair, Dave Meraz.
Additionally, current Board Chair, Lili Diaz, mentioned a number of advocates for their outstanding advocacy, “One advocate in particular, Michelle Alcala, is not only advocating long-distance, but for siblings who are living in another country. By making phone calls and regularly Skyping with the kids, Michelle is ensuring a smooth transition and that they are receiving the necessary support and services.”
Diaz also mentioned the tenacity of a pair of advocates working on a case. “Nicole and Kristine, these two ladies have a whole lot of heart; they reflect CASA’s mission by advocating for the children within the courtroom, classroom, and community.”
The evening concluded with a warm thank-you from the Board of Directors, who donated gas cards and thank-you gifts for the advocates.
CASA encourages those interested in becoming a volunteer advocate to apply to the program. There is no special background or education required to become an advocate; volunteers must be 21 and older and willing to spend a few hours each month working with a foster child to make a positive impact in their life.
The next Advocate Training Session is scheduled to start in late March. For applications and more information, please visit casasanbenito.org or contact the CASA office at 831-637-4992.