Advocate for Children, Inc., a CASA program serving six counties in the region and headquartered in a lovely building in Orange County is gearing up for an exciting year helping children that need it most.

The members of the board of directors met together with the newly employed executive director, Nikki Jones, and to map out plans for moving forward, taking on more children from the busy court system, and engaging the community more directly in the activities, plans, and budget for the organization.

Serving on the board of directors are many of our communities strongest advocates and people willing to work for the betterment of the children in our care.  John Dubose is serving as president, Jane Stevenson as secretary, and Dana Rogers as treasurer. Board members also include longtime friend and supporter of CASA, Gisela Houseman, Wilbert Barnett, Sunni Oceguera, Krissy Reese, and Linda Cox.

“We are so pleased to have Nikki Jones on board as our newly confirmed Executive Director,” said Jane Stevenson active board member, longtime advocate for children and former director. The two ladies have gotten to know each other during the initial training period in the busy office.   “As the former Executive Director and now active board member, I can appreciate the many roles that she must accomplish:   speaker, trainer, recruiter, grant writer, fundraiser, public relations guru, bookkeeper, staff and volunteer supervisor, educator, team player with the courts and others… and many more.   She is already making a difference as she has had to deal with difficult issues and overcome many hurdles.   With her “Can-do” spirit, she can accomplish anything she sets her mind to.   As a board member, I know that it is our role as a board of directors to give her and the program the full effort that she needs to succeed.   I am thrilled at the possibilities she envisions for the growth and enrichment of our CASA program.   She has my commitment of full support and action.” Added Jane Stevenson

One of the first matters to be handled is the recruitment of additional volunteers to help with the ever-growing caseload. “We need ten volunteers right now,” said Jones straightforwardly. I cannot imagine that a community the size of ours does not have ten people that are willing to give up 10 to 15 hours a month of their time to help a child in need” In CASA programs, a local judge assigns a CASA volunteer to a child (or children) to help mentor, monitor, and advocate for the best interest for the child (or children). The volunteer helps to see that the child or children is advocated to the best interested of the child (or children) they deserve a shot at a life of contribution and enrichment to society.

“The need has never been greater for CASA services,” said Jones in a recent interview. “Men and women of character are desperately being sought to help give these boys and girls who have not been given the same opportunities, privileges, safety, and love. Our strong and giving CASA volunteers, staff, and leadership work hard to make a difference in the lives of those we serve over six Texas counties from our Orange office. More than just dedicating time, it requires a desire to help build life bridges and change lives.”

Jones adds that the organization also needs donors that are willing to help share the financial load of the program. “There are several ways to give, and I would be more than happy to speak with any organization, business, industry, or individual about our contribution needs,” said Jones.  “It seems to me that churches and various civic clubs would want to get on board, too,” said Jones. “We have a great need for volunteers, Bridge Builders, Gap Standers, Life Changers and CASA Preceptors. A Preceptor is recognized as a teacher or partner who instructs line upon line, precept upon precept, and child upon child.”

The organization just enjoyed a delightful morning breakfast in conjunction with Chili’s in Orange, where over $3,000 was raised for the programs of CASA. The entire month of June has been dedicated to enlisting monthly sponsors and yearly donors. On June 27, CASA will present an exciting dinner theater at The Garden District in Orange. “Murderous Crossing” will be presented by Port Arthur Little Theater. Be sure to contact the Advocates for Children office to purchase your tickets, as seating is limited.

Also be looking ahead for some other great fundraisers throughout the year including Elijah’s Breakfast in Jasper. In September, the biggest event of the year, the Gala Honoring our Stars will be held. In November, there will be an exciting 5K run welcoming the community’s participation. In December, there will be a breakfast and playhouse for children.

If you have an interest in signing on as a CASA volunteer, please give Nikki Jones a call today to discuss training, requirements, and the very real need. She can be reached at the CASA office located at 2120 Gloria Drive, Orange, or by telephone at 886-CASA (2272). You may also reach Jones at 920-5176.

If you or your organization wishes to invest as a donor in the CASA programs, Jones said she would be happy to speak to you at your convenience or make an appointment to come and present the needs of the group to your employees or members.  “We cannot wait any longer to take care of these children. They need us now. Lives are literally at stake, and our community must step up to the plate,” said the enthusiastic director. “We just might be the only hope they have. We cannot fail because we are too busy, too tired, or too involved in things that have less value.”

Advocates for Children, Inc. – A CASA Program is a fully registered 501 3 C organization and all gifts to the program are tax deductible.