CASA Welcomes New Volunteer Supervisor, Rachel Lahmon

Rachel Lahmon

Brush Country CASA is pleased to welcome Rachel Lahmon to our team! Rachel was raised in Ohio but moved to Texas about 6 years ago. She is married with 4 children who range in age from 5-15. She is a loving mother who spends her free time traveling, reading and volunteering for her children's cub scouts.

Prior to Rachel being hired with us she served a CASA advocate for approximately one year. She also served as the chair for our Legislative Advocacy Team (LAT). She had developed such a passion for LAT that she requested to become the LAT staff liaison to remain active with the team. Rachel will be helping guide our current Legislative Advocacy Team as we advocate for children at a State level.

All in all we are thrilled to have Rachel with us here at CASA. She is an amazing asset and we are so grateful for her hard work.

For more information about the Legislative Advocacy Team please do not hesitate to contact Rachel at rachel.lahmon@brushcountrycasa.org.

CASA Welcomes New Volunteers

We would like to welcome Joshua Sharp and Susan Benskin to our fantastic group of CASA Volunteers! Thank you so much for choosing to make a difference in the life of a child by advocating for their best interest in court. You are a true rockstar!!

 

2019 Continuing Education!

It's a NEW YEAR, a fresh start, and time to start thinking about your continuing education!

We, at CASA, have been searching high and low for new training classes, seminars and webinars so that getting your annual continuing education hours is easier than ever. In addition, we have a list of movies, books and tv shows you can watch at home! (Ask Nicole for more info.)

FREE CASA WEBINARS
Did you know that Texas CASA has CASA College resources on their website? CASA College is geared towards helping our volunteers learn more about several topics that may include everyday challenges within your case. Texas CASA has over 40 webinars available to you at the click of a button!

To register for CASA College please visit https://casacollege.myabsorb.com/#/login.
Click the "Sign Up" button to set up your username and password.
Once completed, you have instant access to all of the valuable information Texas CASA has to offer.

For help setting up your account please contact Nicole at 361.595.7233.
Don't forget to submit proof of attending any webinars! Submit them through Optima by selecting the training tab. More info below.

MOVIES, BOOKS, AND TELEVISION
A list of movies, books and tv shows are available for you to watch at home!
At times, we are unaware of just how many items we are reading and watching that can potentially go towards continuing education. (Ask Nicole for more info.)

Below is a list of a FEW topics that we accept:
Advocacy Skills
Child Permanence
Child Abuse and Neglect
Cultural Awareness
Domestic Violence
Family Dynamics
Substance Abuse
Survival Skills
Mental health
Foster Care 
SUBMITTING YOUR TIME IS EASIER THAN EVER
With Optima it is easier more than ever to submit your time! Simply click on the "Training" tab on the Optima dashboard and submit your time just like you would a contact log. Be sure to use the time conversion chart!

When in doubt shoot Nicole an email, nicole.ortegon@brushcountrycasa.org. She is happy to help.

Thank you so much for doing your part in helping Brush Country CASA stay in compliance with Texas CASA Standards.
We appreciate you!!!

Contact Log Time Conversion Chart

CASA's new database system, Optima, has brought us into the 21st century in a big way and we cannot be more satisfied with the results. We now have a common place to store case information making it accessible to CASA staff and the volunteer who is appointed to the specific case. It also makes entering contact logs and continuing education a breeze! During our time with the new system we have noticed that contact log times are being entered in a plethora of different ways. In an effort to keep the system more cohesive and make submitting reports to Texas CASA less time consuming for staff we are implementing a time conversion chart to help volunteers adhere to the new way of logging time.

Basically the rule of thumb is when logging your time into Optima you may only use the following Conversion Chart: .25, for anything up to 15 minutes, .50 for anything between 16 minutes - 30 minutes, .75 for anything between 31 minutes - 45 minutes, and 1.00 for 1 hour.  So if you are working on your court report for 1 hour and 10 minutes, go ahead and round the 10 minutes up to .25 (which is 15 minutes) and log your time as 1.25.

If you have any questions regarding Optima please do not hesitate to contact your supervisor. Nicole is also available to work with you one on one at anytime if you feel like you need a refresher.

 

Ranch Hand Concert Benefits CASA

This year, the Ranch Hand Weekend in Kingsville, Texas brought in a record breaking amount of folks from all over the country to experience an authentic Cowboy Breakfast at the legendary King Ranch. A new feature of the weekend was the Ranch Hand Weekend Concert which was held on Saturday, November 17th at the JK Northway Coliseum in Kingsville, Texas. The concert featured country musicians Cameran Nelson, Lauren Corzine and headliner, Micheal Ray. CASA is so excited to be named the beneficiary of the concert proceeds which raised over $11,000 for the program! Thank you so very much to the City of Kingsville Tourism Department for choosing to work with CASA. We are so grateful for your support!

Dinner with CASA Event

On November 15, 2018 CASA held its second Dinner with CASA recruitment event at the Salazar Building in Kingsville, Texas. This year we had a guest panel made up of Judge Carrillo, Debbie Cantu with CPS and two CASA volunteers. This was a wonderful event filled with great food and even better company. Thank you to everyone who lent a hand with this event. We are looking forward to hosting this event in Kingsville next November and we are currently working on getting a Dinner with CASA event set up in Alice this coming February.

 

Christmas Dinner for Local CASA Families

The Make a Change Help Others in Need - Kingsville Facebook page, hosted by Jennifer Cash, collected funds to provide Christmas Dinner to our CASA families this holiday season. It started out with a modest goal of $500 and snowballed into an even bigger success of bringing in a little over $1,500! With that money, Jennifer Cash, with the Make a Change Facebook page, and CASA were able to shop for 38 families this year!

 

2018 CASA Conference

Brush Country CASA attended the 2018 CASA Conference in Denton, Texas on October 18th - 20th. Hundreds of CASA staff, volunteers, board members and stakeholders were in attendance making this conference one of the biggest ones yet. One of the highlights was hearing from keynote speaker Steve Pemberton who is the author  of "A Chance in the World" which is the story of his life growing up in a broken foster care system. This is such a great book. It provides insight into the worst case scenarios for some of our children in care. We highly recommend picking up this book for continuing education. By the way, "A Chance in the World", will be made into a movie which is also eligible for continuing education so keep an eye out for that!!

Trailer for “A Chance in the World” movie.

Community Contributes to Christmas Cheer at CASA

This Holiday Season was an joyous one for Brush Country CASA due to the out-poor of community support. With the help of our friends we were able to secure gifts for every single child in our service area and then some! This is the biggest toy collection we have seen in the last five years at CASA! Thank you so very much for everyone involved in the collection process. Everyone from our lovely hosts, and to the public who came together to fill the need. We are forever grateful.

 

CASA Swears in New Volunteer!

CASA is thrilled to welcome our newest CASA volunteer, Markiea Evans, who was sworn in on October 5, 2018 by Judge Jaime E. Carrillo. Ms. Evans has chosen to be a part of our program because of her passion for children. Her passion helps us all come together and be a strong voice as we speak up for and on behalf of children in foster care.

When a child enters foster care because his or her home is no longer safe, a CASA volunteer can be appointed by a Judge to represent the child’s best interest. A volunteer guides a foster child through the child protective system with the goal of reaching a safe and permanent home. Volunteers often become one of the only consistent adults for a foster child, spending a significant amount of time with the child.

The work of a CASA volunteer also involves gathering information from everyone involved in the child’s daily life, including family members, foster parents, teachers, doctors and social workers. CASA volunteers use the information they collect to report to the Judge, advocating for the child’s physical and emotional needs. CASA volunteers are not foster parents; they are highly trained community advocates acting as a powerful voice for a child or sibling group.

CASA is currently seeking volunteers. To learn how you can help children in your community, please visit BecomeACASA.org or contact Nicole at 361.595.7233. Volunteers must be 21 years of age or older and be willing to commit to at least one year of advocacy. No special educational background or experience is required. Call today! Every child deserves a chance... It's You!

Markiea Adams and Judge Jaime E. Carrillo

Markiea Adams and Judge Jaime E. Carrillo

 

Dinner with CASA Save the Date

Brush Country CASA will be hosting a Dinner with CASA event on November 15, 2018 at 6:00 pm at the beautiful Salazar Building located at 200 E. Richard. This event is being put together in an effort to recruit new CASA volunteers. CASA will be inviting staff, board members and advocates to attend and request that all patrons bring a guest who they feel would make a great addition to our exceptional group of CASA volunteers.

Please mark your calendars! For more information about this event please contact Nicole Ortegon at 361.595.7233.

Save the Date

CASA Welcomes New Volunteer Supervisor

Brendy (Bre) Santiago

Brendy (Bre) Santiago

Brendy Santiago is our newest Brush Country CASA employee!  She serves in the role of Volunteer Supervisor.  Brendy and her family recently moved to Kingsville from an overseas assignment, but since Brendy was born in Texas and raised in New Mexico, this move was a homecoming for her!

 
Brendy received her Bachelor's of Science degree with a major in Sociology from Eastern New Mexico University (ENMU) in May 2000.  She met her husband at ENMU and they have been fortunate enough to be stationed around the world at numerous duty locations working for both the US Army and US Navy.  Her family started their overseas journey in Sasebo, Japan in 2002 and have since moved to La Maddalena, Italy; Darmstadt, Germany; Fort Huachuca, Arizona; Manama Bahrain; Uijeongbu, South Korea, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii; Yokosuka, Japan; and now Kingsville, Texas!  She has an extensive background working with both the US Army Child, Youth and School (CYS) Services, and the US Navy Child and Youth Program (CYP).  Since NAS Kingsville will be their retirement duty station, Brendy is very excited to join the Brush Country CASA Team, to work with and support our CASA Volunteers who help make a positive differences within Our Community!

2018 Coastal Bend Day of Giving

On November 13, 2018, our community will come together for the Coastal Bend Day of Giving, and we need YOU to join us. It is 24 hours of unprecedented nonprofit giving—and it is your chance make a real difference, right here in our community.

If you love your lifting up children, then you love Brush Country CASA! And by showing your love through the Coastal Bend Day of Giving, you help sustain the organizations that give so much to our community. On that day, every donation and donor they get will go further to help them claim their share of $875,000 in matching dollars to further their mission. The amount donated will be matched and doubled, up to $17,500, raising at least $35,000 in just 24 hours!

Join me in supporting our community on November 13, 2018 by donating online. coastalbenddayofgiving.org. Fight hunger • Support children • Improve health • Reduce homelessness - right here in the Coastal Bend.

 

SUPPORT US!

Hang a flyer in your business or post it on Facebook!
Link to flyer HERE.
Like Brush Country CASA on Facebook Page HERE.

Tips for Safe Trick or Treating

In the spirit of Halloween here are a few tips for safe Trick or Treating!

Brush Country CASA wishes you all a Happy and Safe Halloween!

Trick-or-treating safety tips
1. Provide adult supervision
Trick or treat is safer – not to mention more fun – in groups, and adult supervision is essential. So get together with other adults and make an evening of it. Bring cellphones for quick pictures and emergencies, but leave them in your pockets to avoid getting distracted.

2. Stay on the sidewalks
The thrill of the holiday often factors into accidents as excited kids rush from door to door. Keep children on the sidewalks, and shepherd them carefully when they need to cross the road. In areas without sidewalks, walk on the far edge of the road, facing traffic.

3. Carefully check candy
Check candy for choking hazards like gum and hard candies. Throw away any candy that is not sealed with a wrapper and avoid homemade treats received from strangers.

Costume safety tips
4. Choose bright, visible costumes
When selecting a costume, opt for the bright-colored outfits and add a touch of reflective tape to the material. Stick some reflective tape on their trick-or-treat bags as well so they can be easily spotted by motorists. Lastly, don’t forget to make sure they’re equipped with a flashlight or glow stick – must-have accessories for any costume.

5. Make sure costumes are well-fitted and safe
Being visible isn’t the only safety consideration for a costume. The right fit is just as important. Here’s some advice on keeping your child’s ensemble safe and secure:

Prevent accidental tripping or entanglement by making sure costumes aren’t too big or long
Avoid masks that block vision, but if your child wears one – it should have large eye, nose and mouth openings. You can also op for makeup or face paint as an alternative

Costumes, wigs and accessories should contain a label indicating they are flame resistant
Make sure accessories such as swords, canes, or sticks are not sharp or too long

6. Makeup safety
If makeup is a part of your child’s Halloween costume plans, make sure it is non-toxic and test it on a small area first. Before your child goes to bed, make sure to remove all makeup.

Home Safety Tips
7. Jack-o-lantern safety
Young children can paint or color their pumpkins instead of carving. Or have them draw a face with markers and an adult can do the carving. Use colorful glow sticks inside your Jack-o-lanterns instead of candles to prevent burns.

8. Home decoration safety
If you’re turning your home into a haunted house, keep safety in mind: make sure steps, sidewalks, porches and paths are well-lit and free of decorations and holiday props. Keep decorations away from fireplaces and candles.

9. Take precaution against pranks and vandalism
Unfortunately, vandalism often increases during Halloween. That’s why taking these precautions is a good idea:

If you’re going away during Halloween, make it seem like you’re still home by turning down the volume of your answering machine and phone, covering your garage windows, and leaving your curtains in normal positions with valuables out of sight.

Install outdoor lighting (activated by a photocell or movement) to illuminate the area around your home during Halloween.
Consider purchasing a security system that directly alerts police to intruders.

Trim shrubs and large trees before Halloween so trespassers have fewer hiding spots.
Make sure your homeowners insurance policy is up-to-date.

Car and driving safety tips
10. Use extra caution while driving
Drivers need to take particular care on this chaotic night. Keep your car parked if you can, but if you have to drive through a neighborhood, take it much slower than normal. Watch for kids who may dart between cars and into the road without looking. Read our Halloween Driving Safety Guide for more useful tips.

11. Protect your car
Cars are another common target of vandalism on Halloween. Here are some ways you can help secure your car:

Park inside if you can on Halloween. Your garage is your best bet. If you do not have a garage you may want to consider investing in some outdoor lighting for your driveway and yard.

Make sure your car is locked on Halloween. Oftentimes, vandals complete their missions with ease when doors are unlocked and windows are down/cracked.
Consider a car alarm.

Hide your valuables on Halloween. Don’t give thieves any extra incentive to break into your car.

Registration is Open for CASA 5K

Registration is now open for Brush Country CASA's upcoming Glow the Distance 5K. The 5K will be held of August 18, 2018 at the Dick Kleberg Park in Kingsville, Texas. Last years event brought in over 160 runners from all over South Texas. This year is proving to be BIGGER and BETTER than ever before!

To register please click HERE.Flyer

BINGO Fundraiser is a BIG success

Family Night Bingo Fundraiser for CASA was held on May 18, 2018 at the Elks Lodge in Kingsville, Texas. A lot of people showed up to test their luck playing for fantastic prizes. Nicole Ortegon, CASA Outreach Director, called the BINGO numbers with several guest helpers including Jennifer Rodriguez, CASA Executive Director, Clarissa Silva, Assistant District Attorney for Nueces County, J. Dean Craig, Assistant County Attorney in Kleberg County and DeeAnn Torres Miller, Corpus Christi Attorney.

All in all, this was a fantastic event bringing in over $2,000 for the CASA Program. CASA would like to give a special thank you to our Board of Directors, Sponsors and every single person in attendance for contributing to the success of this event. We appreciate you!

 

 

CASA Swears in New Volunteers

We are thrilled to welcome five new volunteers to our outstanding group of CASA volunteers. Gracie Vasquez, Karie Kriegel, Gina Garcia, Rachel Gomez and Alex Lopez were sworn in on June 15, 2018 by Judge Jaime E. Carrillo. 

Congratulations guys!! We are so, so happy to have you! You are going to be FANTASTIC volunteers.

CASA Helps Children Find a Forever Family

Thank you to the CASA volunteers for doing such a great job as a CASA volunteer. You had a helping hand placing these children in their forever homes. You all are really making a difference one child at a time!

Congratulations to the Smith and Trevino families on your new addition! We could not be happier for you!

Volunteer Appreciation

CASA Volunteers stand up without compromise for what is in the best interest of children who are in foster care due to abuse and neglect. They work tirelessly to insure that our children have everything they need to thrive rather than simply survive as they journey through the foster care system. Brush Country CASA is so grateful for our outstanding group of CASA volunteers. To show our appreciation we held a pool party for them and their families. All in all we had a "splashing" time!

We are truly grateful for our volunteers! Thank you for all you do!