The Court Appointed Special Advocates group finished their 2013 year breaking records and recognizing two retiring executive board members.
CASA served 250 abused or neglected children last year, which is more than any previous year. CASA Executive Director Leslie Hendricks said in 2012 the group helped 229 children.
“The 2013 year proved to be our most successful year as well with our fundraiser,” Hendricks said. “The CASA Sand Sculpture Artfest took in over $16,000 in monetary support.”
The agency received donations from more than 50 individuals and businesses from the event.
Hendricks said the budget remains steady.
“We are blessed to be able to meet the financial needs to operate the agency,” she said.
Though the agency is financially sound the challenge remains of having enough volunteers to serve each child appointed.
“We had 105 children in 2013 who were un-served by a volunteer,” Hendricks said. “The number of children needing our services also seems to rise each year. That is our greatest challenge — always.”
Former CASA Board President David Wilson said he will become a volunteer.
“I was a board member for five years,” Wilson said. “I want to get into the trenches and directly help children instead of doing it on the board. I feel it is important to give back to the community and help families.”
Hendricks said Wilson has led the board with passion.
“He sees the need for volunteers and has trained to serve our agency through his advocacy for our abused and neglected children in Grant County, which speaks volumes to his heart for children and his community,” she said.
Another retiring executive board member, Sheriff Darrell Himelick, said CASA helps children’s futures.
“Years ago I had a guy run into me that I did not know and he said ‘I want to thank you for saving my kid’s life,’” Himelick said.
Himelick was on the board for seven years and said it takes a special kind of person to volunteer.
“They look for what is best for the child,” he said. “Some of those cases are pretty tough for the volunteers to take on and to see what those kids go through. The group still means a lot to me. I still support them and will help any way I can.”
Hendricks said Himelick is a huge supporter.
“He works to bring new donors, new supporters and new volunteers into our family,” she said. “His strong, dedicated leadership provided direction and focus during a time when the agency needed to increase credibility and vitality in the community.”
There is only one spot left on the executive board. Rita Holloway filled the other vacancy. Hendricks said it is not hard to find someone to fill the positions.
“I believe that individuals like to be part of teams that make a positive difference, and I see that CASA is viewed as one of those agencies,” Hendricks said. “The fact that we are working with precious children facing some of the most challenging times in their young lives only makes our work even more rewarding.”
The agency goals for this year start off with a move.
“Our major short-term goal at this time is relocation,” Hendricks said.
CASA is scheduled to move into a new facility by the end of May.
The organization has a long term goal of training at least 15 new volunteers.
The Sand Sculpture Artfest fundraiser is scheduled for July 12. People interested in learning more can visitwww.casaofgrantcounty.com.