Portland, Dec. 12th. CASA For Children, a nonprofit agency advocating for the best interests of children who are under protection of the court, received a $25,000 grant from the Spirit Mountain Community Fund.  On hand were: Kathleen George, Director of the Spirit Mountain Community Fund; Tim Hennessy, Executive Director, CASA for Children; Kimberly McAlear, CASA Board President; and Sho Dozono, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Spirit Mountain Community Foundation.

The Spirit Mountain Community Foundation awarded more than $3,000,000 in quarterly awards to 143 non-profit organizations this year. Kathleen George, Director of the Community Fund, said she was pleased to be able to support the CASA for Children program and was impressed by their CASA Roadmap project – a plan to close the gap between children who have a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) and children who still need one.

The presentation was made at the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde Governance Center in Grand Ronde with Tim Hennessy, executive director of CASA;  Kathleen George, Director of the Spirit Mountain Community Fund; Louis King, Program Coordinator, Spirit Mountain Community Fund; and Kluane Baer, Spirit Mountain Community Fund.

“We are so pleased to support the work of CASA to help children in the court system get the best possible outcomes and find supporting, safe homes,” said George. “ Helping children get stable, loving foundations is a responsibility that the tribe and Spirit Mountain Community fund are dedicated to.  CASAs have proven to be tremendously effective in improving placements for children by ensuring there is a voice in the courtroom solely focused on what is best for the child.”

The mission of CASA is to provide trained, court-appointed volunteers who investigate, monitor, and serve as advocates in court to help abused and neglected children find permanent placement in safe, nurturing homes.

“We are thrilled with this grant,” said Hennessy.  “This will enable us to effectively work with more volunteers which will then translate into more children served.”

“A CASA volunteer advocate is a tireless and passionate protector of abused and neglected children who are going through the trauma of the court system. They work tirelessly to make a difference in the lives of these families — to help these children find a permanent home as quickly as possible,” Hennessy said.

“Volunteers are the backbone of our program,” said Hennessy. “Without them, it would be impossible for CASA to meet the needs of the children and to adequately advocate for them. However, it isn’t just the children who benefit from this volunteerism. CASA volunteers find that they have the opportunity to learn more about the judicial system, social services, and other disciplines that create the team to care for these children. With the new on-line educational units and seminars, they will have the opportunity to enhance skills they already possess, and develop new ones.”

CASA volunteers are community citizens who are deeply committed to helping abused and neglected children. All CASA volunteers receive more than 30 hours of in-depth training, plus an additional 12 hours of continuing education per year through in-services, lectures, videos, and books. Upon completion of the initial training, CASA volunteers then become sworn officers of the court. In 2011-2012, 383 CASAs 330 advocated for 920 children.

CASA conducts many volunteer training sessions per year. Potential volunteers must be 21 years of age or older, and possess no criminal record. CASA welcomes volunteers from all cultures, professions, and ethnic and educational backgrounds. Applications may be requested by calling the CASA office at 503-988-5115. For additional information about CASA or to volunteer, please call 503.988.5115, or visit www.casahelpskids.org.