CASA of Central Texas, the local program serving Caldwell, Comal, Guadalupe and Hays Counties, recently received a $500,000 donation from Miriam McCoy of McCoy’s Building Supply – the largest one-time gift in the organization’s history.
The gift was made to the program’s Capital Campaign to build an office in San Marcos. Based in New Braunfels, CASA of Central Texas has been serving children in Hays County for more than 30 years, but they have not had a facility in the area. Thanks in large part to McCoy’s generosity, the program plans to open a new volunteer training center in San Marcos that will substantially increase the number of volunteers the program can train and support. Groundbreaking is scheduled for July.
“Right now CASA [of Central Texas] has about 250 volunteers, and each year we see more than 800 children in our community who need our services,” said Executive Director Norma Castilla-Blackwell. “Because we aim to advocate for every child who needs us, our focus right now is to dramatically increase the number of CASA volunteers we recruit, train and support.”
For more information on the donation and CASA of Central Texas’ plans for their Capital Campaign, read this San Marcos Daily Record article.
It’s been an exciting couple of months for CASA of Central Texas – in addition to this historic donation, Blackwell and CASA volunteer Bob Williams were honored as Unsung Heroes for the City of New Braunfels by the New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung in December for their service in the community.
Along with being recognized as one of seven Unsung Heroes, Blackwell was surprised with being selected as the 2017 Citizen of the Year.
Blackwell joined CASA of Central Texas in August 2003, having previously served as a volunteer in Webb County. Prior to joining CASA, she was the Executive Director for Holding Institute, a nonprofit organization that provides educational services to students on the U.S.-Mexico border. She brought a wealth of experience to her leadership role with CASA, having previously served as an adjunct faculty member at Laredo Community College where she was responsible for teaching leadership, self-esteem and pre-employment skills to teens; and as the VINES coordinator for S.C.A.N.’s victim assistance program. Blackwell also has previous experience as a classroom science and social studies teacher and a case manager for Communities in Schools.
CASA volunteer Bob Williams has served as an advocate with CASA of Central Texas since 2010. In addition to volunteering with CASA, he is involved in many other community organizations, including the Community Resource and Recreation Center (CRRC) of Canyon Lake and the Salvation Army.
Williams initially joined the CASA movement when he helped found a CASA program in New Mexico in 1987. He was looking for a challenging volunteer opportunity, and a way to help teens who had been “dealt all the tough cards.” As a CASA volunteer, Williams chooses to be appointed to cases involving older youth, offering them a stable, trustworthy adult presence that they too often lack.
“Placements, schools, teachers, therapists, probation officers – all the adults – are constantly being replaced or changing,” he said. “I have been the only adult in my child’s life that is always there for him.”
Williams has also visited Austin on multiple occasions to advocate at the Capitol, sharing his experiences with lawmakers to help improve the lives of foster children.
CASA of Central Texas and the other CASA programs across the state are always seeking more volunteers like Williams to advocate for abused and neglected children in the community.
“The judge will depend on you for informed advice on the best welfare of the child,” Williams said. “You will be the eyes and ears of the court. Do it! Volunteer! Be a CASA!”
Texas CASA congratulates CASA of Central Texas for these outstanding recognitions, and is excited for the program to expand its capacity to recruit and train advocates in Hays County. Thanks to Miriam McCoy’s generous donation, the program will be able to grow to support even more dedicated volunteers who – just like Williams – will advocate tirelessly to ensure brighter futures for the children they serve!