Thursday, May 13, 2010

CASA - taking care of our children

On April 1st, 2010, start of National Child Abuse Prevention Month, I had the privilege of attending the annual CASA Light of Hope at the Conroe courthouse.  The start of this event is documented at this link. Jill Cantarella, photo to the left, is Operations Manager of the CASA organization here in Montgomery County.  You may recognize the blue ribbons. The story behind these ribbons is provided at this link. CASA is the child advocate organization for the courts in Montgomery County.

Patty Sexton (right), CASA Supervisor, speaks out on the difficulties and needs of these children. When a child needs assistance because their parents or a parent is in custody, or because the child has been abandoned or abused, the court appoints an advocate from CASA to represent the child.  Anything and everything happens to a child who has parents in the world of drugs and crime.  Someone has to step forward on behalf of the child. That someone from CASA is trained to act on behalf of the child in cases of abuse and neglect.  Those volunteers make a huge difference in the lives of children in these circumstances. It is a daunting but highly rewarding job. Each child is handled uniquely for their situation, in order to place them and to provide hope for a real loving home.  There is no generic solution. Therefore, the advocate must get to know the parents, the child and the circumstances around the lives of them all. We lost two children in this county last year due to abuse. We need more volunteers.  Recovery from such dire circumstances is not easy but very rewarding.

So the candle lighting was a vigil in memory of those who were not able to survive and a prayer for those facing such sufferings in their lives.  A candle was lit for every child currently being represented by an advocate. To the left, Jill Cantarella lights the starter candle as  Lindsey sings "This Little Light of Mine." 

Conroe mayor Webb K. Melder giving his view of the importance of this organization.  There were 1019 cases in Montgomery county last year. That is a heavy load for such an organization and shows the magnitude of the problem.

Each candle was lit as the procession of people remembered the hope of each child in the advocate program. Note the blue ribbon armband.

From left to right, Randy Scott (me), Odessa Ross (board member), and Mayor Melder. Note the blue ribbons.

A variety of law enforcement automobiles were present to honor the organization and its efforts for the community. The blue ribbons were on the cars.

In front of the CASA office in Conroe was this sign, with the blue ribbon  pinwheels to emphasize the annual national Child Abuse Prevention Month of April.

Related links
+ Abuse by Jill Cantarella
Montgomery CASA website
+ Google Map to CASA office