November 2018 Newsletter
letter from the executive director
Letter from the Executive Director
Light of Hope Recap
Adoption Awareness Month
CASA's Adoption Success
FY18 Annual Report
Become a CASA
Recommendations from the CASA Staff
Save the Date - Fairfax Run for the Children
Inspiration for you
Table of Contents
Darcy Cunningham Executive Director
Last month we came together at our annual Light of Hope volunteer appreciation event to celebrate our truly amazing and selfless volunteers who are the heart and soul of the CASA program. Without this group of tireless, compassionate, and dedicated individuals, we would not be able to fulfill our mission of providing a voice to every abused and neglected child with an open case before the Court. As I said at the event, the people who wear the Fairfax CASA badge are courageous and brave.
I read a quote at the event, from Teddy Roosevelt in 1910 that makes me think of our volunteers.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs… who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”
Our volunteers dare greatly. They put themselves out there. They walk into really messy, complicated, family situations just because we ask them to, whereas most people avoid their OWN messy, complicated families! What we ask of them is tremendous: It takes a very special person to do this work. Last year, over 330 people inquired about becoming a CASA volunteer. After the long, careful and challenging process we put people through, we swore in 19 people. Nineteen! Our volunteers are part of a very small portion of our society who dares to be selfless, dedicated and courageous. They are exceptionally impressive. I am grateful to each and every one of our volunteers, past and present. Through their volunteerism, they are making a difference in the world and we should all be grateful that they have chosen Fairfax CASA as the recipient of their time and energy.
May Cook Heart of Gold Award presented to Nancy Dolliver who, has served as a CASA for 11 years. Nancy has been a fierce advocate for older youth in her time as a CASA.
Child Advocacy Award being received by Seema Jain of the The Empowering Youth through Employment Program
Corporate Champion award accepted by the team from Freddie Mac Legal
Donna Martonik, Marcia Kirton-Ceasar, and Sabrina Lozano
Our annual volunteer appreciation event, Light of Hope, was held on Sunday, October 28th at the newly renovated Barns at Wolf Trap. CASA volunteers, staff, board members, judges, and community partners enjoyed a cocktail hour, luncheon, and featured program that highlighted the accomplishments of our CASAs throughout the year and the outstanding work our community partners have done in the past year to support Fairfax CASA.
Many thanks to our sponsors for their commitment to helping us make the Light of Hope a success!
-Homes Confidence Group
-Union Home Mortgage
Light Keeper Sponsors
-Bean, Kinney, Korman
Community Partner Award accepted by Erica Gminski, from Pacers Fairfax
light of hope recap
light of hope event video
A: What is your favorite/most special moment as a CASA volunteer?
A: How do you pass the time when not doing casework?
A: How did you find your way to CASA?
A: What are some of your thoughts on CASA advocacy and the youth we serve?
Nancy: I worked in television production for twenty years while raising two children with my husband, Michael. Part time performing, writing and directing projects at my church, and helping with my kids’ activities made for a full schedule.
Ashleigh: Tell us about yourself before you entered the world of CASA.
N: I enjoy working with teens and have enjoyed the challenges they bring. And I love learning new things. As a CASA, you are always learning something new, which helps keep me young!
N: While raising my family, I noticed a trend of busy families, but few examples of volunteering that was not involved in supporting one’s own family and children’s activities. I heard of CASA and when my schedule became more flexible, wanted to help families who struggled, and children who were harmed or neglected by their family’s struggles.
N: I like supporting the children with compliments about who they are as a person, and their accomplishments. I discovered that most of the children we serve have not heard enough good things about themselves and they often lack the confidence and sense of self that this attention can bring. They need to know that they matter and we have an opportunity to let them know their worth.
For this issue's Volunteer Spotlight, we're continuing to celebrate our May Cook Heart of Gold Award winner, Nancy Dolliver.
Here are some of her reflections on the time she has spent over the last 11 years as a CASA...
Interview by Ashleigh Conrad
volunteer spotlight continued
A: What is the best thing about being a CASA volunteer?
N: I perform locally and travel the country with The Capitol Steps political satire troupe. I also facilitate parenting classes for the Department of Family Services, and I enjoy biking the local trails with friends.
N: One of my first CASA children was turning 18 and I told her I could continue to be a community support for her, but that maintaining the relationship was Her choice. She gave it some thought and then said, “I’ve decided to keep you!” And she has, to this day.
INTERVIEW BY ASHLEIGH CONRAD
Parenthood requires love,
Here at Fairfax CASA, we've seen our own share of adoption successes over the past year. Here is one story of adoption we've seen over the past year as told by our CASA supervisor, Emily Rea. All names have been changed to protect confidentiality.
adoption awareness month
casa's adoption successes
Adoption is also being elevated to the national spotlight thanks to the upcoming movie, "Instant Family." The movie follows a couple entering the complex world of foster care and adoption with the intent to grow their family by one, but after meeting a special group of siblings, they take 3 children into their home, growing their family overnight. Based on the real life story from writer/director Sean Anders, this story is sure to show the nationwide audiences the reality of fostering and adoption. And when you go to see the film, stick around in your seat until the end! CASA is a featured organization that the film is encouraging movie goers to seek out and support. Check out the trailer here!
November is Adoption Awareness Month and across Virginia and the country, people are celebrating! Here in Fairfax, there are nearly 200 youth in foster care, many who are waiting for their forever family. Our Department of Family Services has released an amazing story of an older teen, Isabella, finding hers. You can watch her story here.
"Robbie first came into foster care due to his exposure to emotional abuse, physical neglect, and physical abuse. Because of this, Robbie struggled with mental illness, suicidal thoughts, and violent outbursts towards his younger brother. Eventually, his younger brother, Kevin, also came into foster care. As a result of Robbie's violence towards Kevin, they were placed in separate foster homes.
Kevin had a hard time recovering from his removal, as he did have a strong bond with his mother, but his foster parents were there for him the whole time. They were patient and helped him work through his emotions, getting him services, and did a great job advocating for him when certain services weren’t working or making things worse. He slowly came around and came to appreciate the stability available in the foster home, that he hadn’t had before, and was adopted by his foster family.
Once Robbie was provided with services, medication, and a stable household – his behavior slowly began to improve, as did his mood and ability to trust. There had been no real attachment between him and his mother but he did grow attached to his foster parents who remained committed to him through his difficult behaviors and recovery to ultimately become his adoptive parents. His story is a prime example of the huge difference stability can make in a child’s life."
-Emily Rea, CASA Supervisor
fy18 annual report
Black Friday. Cyber Monday. Giving Tuesday.
Join Fairfax CASA and millions around the world for a day of global giving.
For us, it serves as the kickoff to our year-end fundraising season and we hope you will help us hit our goal of $10,000 in order to provide a full year of advocacy in 2019 to 6 abused and neglected children.
Two kids named Wes Moore were born blocks apart within a year of each other. Both grew up fatherless in similar Baltimore neighborhoods and had difficult childhoods; both hung out on street corners with their crews; both ran into trouble with the police. How, then, did one grow up to become a Rhodes Scholar, decorated veteran, White House fellow and business leader while the other became a convicted murderer serving a life sentence? Author Wes Moore, sets out to answer this profound question in his non-fiction work, The Other Wes Moore, recommended by Supervisor Paula Salguero McCommons.
Each year, nearly 120 children in Fairfax County experience abuse or neglect that requires the Court and the Department of Family Services to enter their lives. Instead of playing with neighbors and making happy family memories, they're attending court hearings, adjusting to new foster homes, and transitioning to new schools. That's a heavy burden for a child to bear. With a CASA assigned to their case, our community's most vulnerable children have someone by their side, speaking up for their best interests.
You can be that person.
Be a hero for an abused and neglected child. Take the first step by attending one of these upcoming information sessions!
December 8th, 11am-12pm at the CASA office
January 5th, 11am-12pm at the CASA office
become a casa
In many ways, Carrie Parker is like any other 8 year old girl - playing make believe, going to school, and dreaming of faraway places. But even in her imagination, she can't pretend away the hardships of her impoverished North Carolina home, or protect her younger sister Emma. As the big sister, Carrie is determined to do everything to keep Emma safe from a life of abuse and neglect at the hands of their drunken stepfather - abuse their mother can't seem to see, let alone stop. Narrated with simplicity and unabashed honesty, Elizabeth Flock's novel, Me & Emma, recommended by Executive Director, Darcy Cunningham, is a vivid portrayal of a child's indomitable experience, incredible courage, and the heartbreaking loss of innocence.
"Life is a tiny series of miracles.