A one-on-one relationship with a caring, consistent, and highly trained adult truly makes a difference in a child’s life, especially when they are from abused and neglected circumstances. Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for Children of South Central Missouri is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that supports volunteers who advocate for these children, providing a voice for them. A CASA volunteer gets to know the child and spends time with them, while developing trust and noticing when something is off.
CASA is hosting the 8th Annual Justice IS Served! event from 7:00 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, April 5, at the Missouri S&T Havener Center Ballroom. Judges from the 25th Circuit will serve breakfast to community members and their guests. Justice IS Served! has become one of the most popular charitable events in the region. The judges will be seen dishing up eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns, and refreshing coffee cups during the event.
Participating in the event will be 25th Circuit Associate Judges Mark Calvert, Ronald “Ron” White, Colin Long, Michael Hedrick, Douglas “Doug” Gaston, Kerry Rowden, and Circuit Judges John Beger and William “Bill” Hickle, in addition to Senior Judge John Wiggins and Missouri Court of Appeals, Southern District Judge Mary Sheffield.
“In the course of my 35 years of seeing these cases coming through my courtroom, I see the cycle over and over,” said Judge Mary Sheffield. “If we don’t stop the neglect and abuse of these children or help them, who will? You don’t have to be the smartest or most educated person on the planet. You just need to care about the children to be a volunteer for CASA. And I think Americans care about children, especially those in their own communities.”
CASA of South Central Missouri’s goal is to advocate for and serve all abused and neglected children in the court system by the year 2020. Currently there are 475 children in the system. A total of 104 CASA volunteers are serving 141, leaving 334 children without a CASA. Usually a CASA volunteer serves one child at a time, but some volunteers take more than one case. Though funding is partly provided by grants, a majority of the funds needed to sustain and expand the program come from individuals and businesses in our local community. Funds raised in our community stay in our community.
CASA is also a part of a select group of organizations that qualify for the State of Missouri Champion for Children Tax Credits. These tax credits allow individuals to receive up to 50% tax credits for any donation of $100 or more during the calendar year. When combined with the State and Federal Charitable Contribution deductions, many people can receive more than 80% of that contribution back on their taxes. In 2017, it took just over $1,000 for CASA to provide adequate support and resources for a child in foster care.
“These children need someone,” said Judge Sheffield, “someone who makes sure that these children have what they need to succeed.”
Individual tickets for the Justice IS Served! event are priced at $100 each. Sponsorship levels are from $250 to $5,000 with name recognition options and breakfast tickets included.
For more information or contributions, contact Janece Martin at 573-426-5437 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Make checks payable and mail to CASA of South Central Missouri, c/o Janece Martin at CASA, 400 North Main, Suite 202, Rolla, MO 65401.
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Refining their serving skills are judges of the 25th Circuit, pictured left to right, Mark Calvert, Associate Circuit Judge, Division 2: Ronald “Ron” White, Associate Circuit Judge, Division 1; William “Bill” Hickle, Circuit Judge, Division 1; John Wiggins, Senior Judge; and John Beger, Circuit, Division 2. The judges will be serving breakfast at the 8th Annual Justice IS Served! event from 7:00 a.m. – 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, April 5 at the Missouri S&T Havener Center hosted by the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for Children of South Central Missouri.