Yolo CASA: We’re grateful … and in need of volunteers

This article by Tracy Fauver first appeared in the Davis Enterprise on October 8, 2017.

We are full of gratitude because on Sept. 17, we hosted our most successful dinner and auction yet, thanks to our generous community members.

All proceeds will go toward training Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs) for foster children, to provide them with consistent and stable relationships, and ensure that their voices are heard and their needs are met in the dependency system.

John Martin and Rafael Galiano again donated the use of their beautiful venue at Park Winters to Yolo County CASA’s annual dinner and auction, but the generosity didn’t stop there. Knowing that Yolo County CASA relies on private philanthropy and grants to survive, individuals and organizations from all over Yolo County came together to transform the lives of foster children.

 Jim and Georgia Corbett participate in the live auction. Courtesy photo

Sponsors for the evening included Jim and Georgia Corbett, Christopher and Sharon Steele, Kathy and Henry Thornhill, First Northern Bank, Greiner Heating and Air, Sandy and Bob Lorber, Richard Mandelaris DMD, Nugget Markets, Syar Foundation, Sutter Health, Diane Makley, Van Dermyden Maddux Law Firm, Odd Fellows Lodge No. 169, Rebekah Lodge No. 253, Davis Ace Hardware, Davis Food Co-op, Yolo Federal Credit Union and Park Winters.

This outpouring of support comes at a critical time. At the auction, I told attendees that five years ago we made a goal to provide every foster child in Yolo County with a CASA volunteer, and we are on track to meet that goal based on the number of kids who were in care then — about 250.

However, what we did not know when we set our goal is that the number of children in foster care would more than double. We are now at an all-time high of more than 500 children in our dependency system, so we need to work harder than ever to reach our goal.

This was followed by the “Fund a Need” portion of the event. Inspired, the audience stepped forward. Attendees held up their bid numbers to pledge anywhere from $100 to $15,000 to aid in the recruitment, training and supervision of additional advocates to meet the growing need.

Attendees also donated vacation homes and other prized possessions to the live auction on the spot.

Yolo County CASA has doubled its capacity in the past five years. To serve the current amount of children in the dependency system, it must double it again.

Research has shown that children with CASAs graduate from high school and attend college at higher rates, do better in school than their counterparts without CASAs, are less likely to be involved in delinquent behavior and are more likely to be involved in their communities as adults.

 Yolo CASA Board President Kirk Trost addresses the crowd with Past President Ginni Davis at left and Executive Director Tracy Fauver in the center, slightly obscured. Courtesy photo

Equally, if not more important, we see each day the profound impact that having an unpaid CASA volunteer devoted to a foster child’s well-being makes for that child. All of a sudden, the foster child does not feel alone in a system of many teachers, social workers and legal professionals.

On the heels of the auction’s success, recruiting more CASA volunteers is vitally important. As we grow our capacity to support our CASA volunteers, it is essential that we spread the word.

If you’ve ever even had an inkling to become a CASA volunteer, we urge you to explore it further. It truly is an opportunity to completely change a child’s life when they need it the most.

Yolo County CASA’s next volunteer training begins on Jan. 16. For more information, about the training or Yolo County CASA in general, please refer to www.yolocasa.org. To read personal stories from our CASA volunteers about what it’s like to be one, please refer to the “Hearts of Yolo” stories on our website.

— Tracy Fauver, a licensed clinical social worker, is the executive director of Yolo County CASA. Her column is published monthly.

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