Johnson City Press Sunday, July 5, 2015

Sue Guinn Legg

Press Staff Writer
Read More From Sue Guinn Legg

Follow me on:

Columns Good Neighbor

Child advocates, shelter need help

June 27th, 2013 11:36 am by Sue Guinn Legg

Child advocates, shelter need help

Court Appointed Special Advocates of Northeast Tennessee will wrap up its fiscal year on Sunday and is asking for the community’s help matching a $3,500 contribution that could help CASA help up to 10 more local children who have been abused or neglected.
“We’ve received a commitment to match any funds we raise by midnight on June 30 up to a total of $3,500. If we can raise these funds quickly to take advantage of the generous matching offer, it will help us cover the 10 children who still need a CASA volunteer,” Leslie Dalton, executive director of the nonprofit CASA organization, said.
“It costs us $400 per year to serve one child. These are local children right here in Johnson City, Greeneville and Erwin who are waiting for a CASA volunteer to speak up for them by making sure their needs are being met and they are in a safe, stable home as quickly as possible.”
CASA children who could benefit from contributions to meet the match include a 7-year-old girl from Johnson City who doesn’t know where her next meal will come from because she doesn’t have access to free and reduced price school lunches this summer; a 5-year-old boy in Erwin who is wondering if he’ll get to go to summer camp after he was taken from his home and placed in foster care because his mother is addicted to pain pills; and a 17-year-old from Greeneville who will become an adult next month and doesn’t know where he’ll go or who will help him when he leaves foster care.
“These are the children served by CASA volunteers,” Dalton said. Any donation, whether a one-time gift or a monthly pledge, will make a difference in their lives and the lives of other area children who have come under the jurisdiction of local courts through no fault of their own or aging out of foster care without the continuing support of a family.
For those who wish to help CASA meet the match, tax deductible contributions may be made by mail to CASA of Northeast Tennessee, P.O. Box 1021, Johnson City, TN 37605 or online at Pledges of one-time donations or monthly support to CASA may also be made at the website or by calling Dalton at 461-3500.
There’s an emergency shelter in Mountain City providing a temporary home for children who have been abused, neglected and abandoned.
Bridge Builders received its nonprofit status in fall 2011 and began sheltering Johnson County children in crisis situations last spring. Since then, the shelter has housed and assisted 36 children who otherwise would have been taken to a juvenile detention or state contracted housing facilities outside the community until foster care homes could be secured for them through the courts.
Recognizing the county’s need for a temporary shelter for children, Bridge Builders’ founders Paul and Joy Welborn modified their home to provide a place for children who may stay at the shelter for up to three weeks. Their nonprofit organization also includes an after school and summer program for low-income, latchkey children who are home alone while their parents are at work, and an emergency food pantry for their families.
Since beginning work, the Welborns have found the number of children in need in the Mountain City area is larger than they anticipated. Paul said the number of homeless, sexually and physically abused and neglected children and the number who are simply told by their parents they do not want them anymore is surprising, sad and only compounded by the county’s high unemployment and poverty rates.
To better address the need, their goal is to expand the Bridge Builders shelter and on June 1, they held their first public fundraiser, a fun day for kids at the Crewette building in Mountain City followed by a dinner and auction for adults. The couple is working now to spread the word of the assistance Bridge Builders shelter provides and the need for its expansion.   
For those who wish to help, donations to Bridge Builders are tax deductible and may be made by mail to 920 Highway 421 North, Mountain City, TN 37683. More information about the shelter may be obtained by calling Bridge Builders at 742-5595.

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

comments powered by Disqus