CASA Programs Keep the Mission Moving Forward, Digitally

CASA of Tarrant County’s recent virtual volunteer swearing-in ceremony.

Over the past couple of months, we’ve been talking a lot about remote advocacy—volunteers connecting with children and families through video chat, testifying remotely, Zoom family meetings and so on.

But there’s no question: effective remote operations have been just as critical during this time.

In fact, we’ve been getting some wonderful stories from CASA staff and leadership across the state who are continuing to recruit, raise awareness and fundraise in their communities while also keeping their volunteers and coworkers safe, supported and engaged.

Here are a few of our favorites. Thank you for all that you do, and stay safe out there!

A Fort Worth-area judge used Zoom video conferencing for the first time in order to swear in CASA of Tarrant County’s latest class of volunteers. Though the new volunteers can’t yet meet the children and families they’re serving in person, they’re already getting to know them through phone and video chat, and reviewing their case files.

“I think it’s important, and I don’t think that helping can stop,” said newly-sworn-in volunteer Brittany Bemben. “So we’ll just have to be resourceful and move forward and help kids in any way we can through technology.”

Until their office can reopen and in-person training can resume, Dallas CASA has moved both its information sessions and its pre-service volunteer training entirely online to ensure the safety of their staff, volunteers and the children and families they serve.

“We pivoted quickly in March to online training of new volunteers….We are proud that since the beginning of social distancing, we’ve sworn in 50 volunteers to serve as child advocates,” said Dallas CASA President and CEO Kathleen LaValle.

CASA of the Coastal Bend in Corpus Christi has been doing weekly Zoom meetings with their CASA volunteers to keep them feeling connected. One of their recent meetings was focused on keeping advocates engaged in recruitment. They invited Texas CASA Statewide Recruitment Officer Dennise Jackson to speak and get the advocates fired up. She explained that even in the midst of this crisis, there are still plenty of people in the community who are ready and willing to get involved.

“Now more than ever, we have a captive audience,” Jackson said. “Do not sideline recruitment!”

Golden Crescent CASA in Victoria held a virtual volunteer appreciation event that centered on keeping advocates connected and prioritizing mental wellness. 50 volunteers attended!

They opened the meeting early so that the volunteers could catch up with each other before the event started. Then, a speaker talked about self-care during this time so that the volunteers could make sure they were in the best mental place to advocate for the children and families they serve.

Many CASA programs are having to cancel or postpone fundraising and awareness events – but this year, Big Country CASA in Abilene took their 5k fundraiser virtual. It was a “run at your place, your time and at your pace” race: runners registered online, then they decided where and when they wanted to run. They also put together an optional route at a local college campus, making sure runners were aware of virus-related gathering size restrictions and safety precautions. Participants posted great pictures and videos on social media!

Lone Star CASA in Rockwall also got creative with fundraising and hosted a virtual happy hour fundraiser, asking people to post a selfie with their favorite beverage, “tip” their waiter by donating to CASA, and challenge friends to participate as well.

“Now, more than ever, these children need us. And we need the community’s support,” said Board President Jennifer Ashmore. “They may be out of sight, but should never be out of mind.”

Does your program have a story or idea you’d like to share with us? Let us know by emailing [email][/email]!

Thank you for all that you do for our movement, and for stepping up for children and families in crisis during this time. We know the last couple of months haven’t been easy. Remember to check our COVID-19 webpage for all the latest updates and resources for navigating the pandemic.