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CASA of San Benito County

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Civil Rights

Mission: To train and support community volunteers who advocate for abused and neglected children placed in foster care, upholding the children's rights while pursuing a safe and permanent home.

Results: While advocates visit their assigned foster child on a regular basis, their role encompasses much more responsibility than that of just a friend and mentor. They maintain consistent communication with the child’s assigned professionals such as social workers, therapists, schools and teachers, attorneys, and caregivers; collaborating, facilitating, and bridging the gap by working directly with the child and their assigned service providers. Advocates also address academic achievement, monitor case progress and compliance with court orders, report findings, make recommendations to the court, and speak up for the child during court proceedings. Permanency and connectedness are at the forefront of advocacy. By monitoring the child’s social-emotional well-being and encouraging their participation in extra-curricular or enrichment activities, advocates are working diligently to provide foster children with a sense of dignity and respect, a sense of normalcy, the opportunity to experience healthy, functional relationships within their community, have access to resources, and provided with a safe, nurturing placement to call home. The CASA program is unique in that it is the only organization providing advocacy, resources, and support for foster children from San Benito County; there are no other organizations within our community providing these services.

Target demographics: Children 0 to 21 who have been placed in foster care due to abuse, neglect, or abandonment.

Geographic areas served: San Benito County, California

Programs: CASA, Court Appointed Special Advocates, of San Benito County recruits, trains, and supervises volunteers who advocate for foster children

Community Stories

9 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Volunteering for CASA of San Benito County is truly the best decision I made. It feels great knowing that I am dedicating my spare time to an amazing organization and helping the foster children in my community feel supported.

I've been a volunteer at this organization for about a year. I can happily say this organization is well-run and as a volunteer I feel well supported throughout my CASA journey. The positive outcomes outweigh the negative and it's such a great feeling knowing I was a part of the help.

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

An outstanding organization dedicated to assist with and support children in our community. The advocates’ participation is with a deep concern for, and focus on, a child’s individual an particular needs during trying times in their lives. Our community is stronger and a better place because of our CASA organization.

1

Board Member

Rating: 4

I have been a member of the CASA board for about three years and I am amazed at the dedication and accomplishments of the Executive Director and her staff and advocates. These people really make a difference in the support they offer to the foster care children of San Benito County. CASA works to improve the lives of these children forced into chaos due to family separations for various reasons.
These foster children usually end up spending holidays by themselves. You can imagine the loneliness and lack of self confidence experienced during this time. This past Christmas, I had the privilege to help Executive Director Curtis pick up nine beautiful new bicycles of various sizes she procured through a grant process to give a bicycle to a deserving foster child in the CASA system. We picked up the bicycles at the San Jose Convention Center where hundreds of volunteers were assembling, testing, and staging each bicycle order for people to pick up. Over 2000 bicycles were completed in about 4 hours. What an inspiring site to behold. Esther and her advocates then delivered each bicycle personally to a special child for Christmas. I can only imagine the happiness, confidence, and self respect each receiving child experienced by this act of kindness. This is truly a wonderful organization to be associated with. They are there helping some very special children in our community.

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

Hello my name is Dave Meraz board member of San Benito Casa. I consider my self very lucky to have family around my whole life. But think of some of our foster kids young and old that are in the system and abandon by their parents. Having to spend Christmas, holidays and birthdays without family members around. Well I can't. So please help support our cause and donate to Casa of San Benito County and help us support these kids to become strong adults and start a new life on their own.

Thanks,

Dave Meraz

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been a volunteer advocate with CASA of San Benito County for seven years, having worked with six children, ages 8, 11, 11, 13, 15, and 16. Though more involved than typical volunteer work, I find it significantly more rewarding. There is no greater feeling than being a support to a child during a difficult time.

Often, children in foster care don't want any additional professionals in their lives, but as an advocate, you are so much more than just "another part of the system". You have the ability to develop a relationship with child, understand their needs and wishes from their point of view, and provide direct input to the courts to ensure these children truly don't "fall through the cracks".

CASA of San Benito is extremely supportive and dedicated to serving foster children from our community. If you are looking for a meaningful and rewarding volunteer work, this organization is for you.

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have been privileged to be involved with CASA for several years. I have served as a volunteer, advocate and Board Member. This in turn has given me great insight to the overall workings of the program.
The CASA Mission is: To train and support community volunteers who advocate for abused and neglected children placed in foster care, upholding the children's rights while pursuing a safe and permanent home. Due to dedicated staff and volunteer advocates these children have been served in this way.
The children have been able to grow academically and socially affording them the chance to be successful in the future. The best interest of the child is of paramount importance and is always a priority.
These children in the Foster Care System deserve to be cared for and the CASA program achieves this. It is a privilege to be associated with such an inspiring program.

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have had the pleasure of working with the board for several years now, and had the privilege of seeing the amazing work of the staff at this office. I have never worked with a non-profit team that is so passionate and genuine. The team works diligently to make this program successful. During these formative years for the foster youth in our community it is so important to have a stable adult to turn to and know that they care about your well-being. The staff at CASA of SBC have done an incredible job of making sure that every CASA is able to make that connection with the children, and maintain focus on the organizations mission. Their care and compassion emanates through the program and helps them stand out from other organizations as a cause to get behind.

2 Pat Golden M.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I’ve worked with CASA of San Benito County (SBC), off and on for the past 8 years, first as an advocate for a few children in foster care and now as a member of the board. When I became an advocate, I felt prepared with the extensive training provided and totally supported by the Executive Director of CASA of SBC. The Executive Director was available by phone or visit when I had questions or concerns about my CASA responsibility. I not only met with my CASA kiddo on a regular basis, I made sure I was in court the day their case was to be presented/ discussed. The judge frequently asked for a verbal update about the child and their situation in addition to the formal report I prepared. My professional life was spent primarily in clinical laboratories where when you performed a test according to procedure, your result is predictable. However, when working with children you cannot expect to know the result of a particular action, especially kids whose home life has not always been predictable or stable.
I found that a primary issue I encountered with the children I served, was to get them to talk and share feelings. I knew, from being a mother, that the conditions had to be just right and trust built for a child to reveal their concerns, thoughts and feelings. The teenager to whom I was assigned at one point was definitely a challenge. I knew from experience with my daughter, that looking face to face was not the best way to get them to share their thoughts. My CASA kiddo had expressed interest in learning to knit, so I brought knitting needles and yarn to our next meeting. While sitting side by side as I demonstrated knitting skills, she began to provide glimpses into her life, as she saw it.
I’ve explored other non-profit organization where I considered devoting my time and support, however, I felt that they were only interested in money donations to support the salaried staff. The cause was good but it appeared to be lost in paying jobs of already established individuals. CASA accepts the time and experience of the advocates and volunteers to improve the lives of the children thrust into turmoil and chaos through no fault of their own.

2

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I've been a volunteer and staff member with CASA in two different counties on and off over the last 20 years. When CASA of San Benito County started the program was virtually unknown to most everyone in the County. They had an uphill battle gaining recognition and respect not to mention funding for the program. Knowing the County well I knew that it wasn't going to be easy. Somehow Esther Curtis and Lori Arnold along with some great volunteers were able to make it happen. They won the hearts of the community who now when the name CASA comes up, it is met with a nod, a smile and comments of what great work they are doing. I now rarely have to explain what it is CASA does. Another hurdle was gaining the respect of the other stakeholders in the world of child welfare. They not only accomplished that but became one of the leaders who many of those stakeholders now look to for guidance and information.
I've been privileged to work with many of the children served by CASA and have followed their stories and outcomes. I can say without a doubt that the children served by CASA of SBC have had the advantage of dedicated, loving and caring people who go the extra mile to ensure that these children have the most success and best possible outcomes. No child is left behind when it comes to CASA of San Benito County.