CASA aims to help more

Sue Guinn Legg • Jan 23, 2012 at 9:24 AM

Court Appointed Special Advocates of Northeast Tennessee, the volunteer advocacy program that assists area juvenile courts in cases involving abused and neglected children, is building momentum in its effort to expand its base of trained volunteer advocates and serve more children.

Coming off a successful fall training session from which 10 new CASA volunteers have already been sworn in for service and several others are completing their mentoring with experienced volunteers, CASA will kick off a new round of volunteer training next week.

An orientation to the CASA program for volunteers interested in speaking up for abused and neglected children who come under the jurisdiction of the local Juvenile Courts through no fault of their own will be held Monday beginning at 5:30 p.m. at the ARC of Washington County offices at 110 E. Mountcastle Drive.

Those who cannot attend Monday’s orientation but wish to learn more about the CASA program may call CASA to schedule an individual orientation. Classes will begin later in the week and will continue twice weekly for six weeks. The class schedule will be set to accommodate the greatest number of volunteers.

Participants will learn how to investigate the homes and circumstances of children who are abused and neglected, how to provide a voice for the child in court proceedings, and how to make recommendations to judges that are in the best interest of the child with a primary goal of placing the child in a safe, permanent home as quickly as possible.

“CASA serves hundreds of local children and can only hope to serve hundreds more with the help of more volunteers. Our goal is for each child caught in the court system at no fault of their own to have an advocate,” CASA Program Coordinator Leslie Dalton said.

CASA of Northeast Tennessee serves the Juvenile Courts of Johnson City, and Washington, Unicoi and Greene counties and recently entered a new partnership with the judges of the 1st Judicial District that will expand its services to abused and neglected children in the civil courts of Washington, Carter, Unicoi and Johnson counties.

Joy McCray, executive director of CASA of NET, said Wednesday that while a couple of CASA volunteers have been appointed to cases in civil courts, the partnership is still being developed and appointments will require additional training for CASA volunteers who have already received training in the Juvenile Courts.

For more information about the CASA program, call 461-3500 or visit www.casanetn.org.

Proceeds from the AAA Tri-Cities Cruise and Travel Show to be held Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. at the MeadowView Conference Resort and Convention Center in Kingsport will go to Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Tennessee.

Information and discounts on cruises, tours, driving vacations and more will be available and door prizes, including a four-night Royal Caribbean cruise, will be awarded. Admission to the show is $5 for AAA members and $6 non-members and will help the food bank help local families and individuals who struggle during winter months to make the choice between heating their homes and putting food on the table.

Kathy Smith, director of community relations for the food bank, said more than 200 agencies in Northeast Tennessee assisted by the food bank are easing some of that burden by providing food to people in need and every food bank donation and travel show ticket sold will help.

For more information about how to help the food bank, visit www.netfoodbank.org or call 477-4053. For more about the travel show, call AAA of East Tennessee at 928-7671 or visit easttn.aaa.com.

The Mountain States Foundation’s youth talent search for a Broadway style gala to benefit Niswonger Children’s Hospital will continue Monday evening with a second round of auditions to be held at Barter Theater in Abingdon, Va.

Five finalists will be selected to perform alongside Broadway professionals Peter Lockyer, Denise DiRenzo, David Elder and Cary Miller in “(One) Singular Sensational Evening” at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center in Greeneville scheduled for March 17.

Children ages 7 to 17 are invited to prepare a Broadway song, a country song or a classical song of their choosing. Each vocalist will have a one-minute performance time. A CD player and a piano will be available but vocalists will need to bring their own accompanists if desired.

The auditions will begin at 5:30 p.m. For more information, call Cookie McKinney at 431-1224.

If there is a need or a project in your neighborhood the Good Neighbor column can assist with, contact Sue Guinn Legg at slegg@johnsoncitypress.com, P.O. Box 1717, Johnson City, TN 37605 1717 or 929-3111, ext. 335.

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