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!

KingDom Mattress & Furniture donates to CASA

Brush Country CASA would like to show our gratitude to Rocky Dominguez and KingDOM Mattress & Furniture for their generous donation of brand new furniture to CASA. Because of their generosity four of our CASA children have a comfy bed to lay their heads. We appreciate your support!!




2018 Candlelight Vigil

 The candlelight vigil, which is held every April in recognition of Child Abuse Awareness Month, was jointly-sponsored by the Kleberg County Child Welfare Board, the Brush Country Court Appointed Special Advocates for children and the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.  It was a great turnout all around we had local officers, judges,and people from the community join us in this event.

Celanese Donates to CASA

Brush Country CASA was presented with a check for $7,000 on Tuesday April 17th from Celanese Bishop Facility. CASA, along with several other non-profit organizations, was chosen to be a recipient of funding that was raised by Celanese employees through the Celanese Foundation which is an employee-led effort focused on improving quality of life for people in our community and around the world. The Celanese Foundation focuses on initiatives to improve the fundamental living conditions of people, with a special focus on families and children. Through partnerships in the community, Celanese employees guide the decision-making process and are involved in all aspects.

Brush Country CASA would like to sincerely thank the Celanese Bishop Facility and it's outstanding employees for their continued support and belief in our mission.

Brush Country CASA is a non profit organization who trains and supports community volunteers as they help to guide children through the foster care system. CASA volunteers are the one constant person in the child's life standing up without compromise for what is in their best interest. Every Child Deserves a Chance - It's YOU. Join us for volunteer training which begins May 15th at 9:00 am. Call 361.595.7233 to learn more.

Children’s Spring Festival

Brush Country CASA , Child Protective Services and the Child Welfare Board held two Spring Festivals in observation of Child Abuse Prevention Month in April. The first Spring Fest. was held on April 14th in Alice, Texas at Veterans Plaza Park and proved to be a success despite the threat of rain. The second Spring Fest. was held on April 21st in Kingsville, Texas at Dick Kleberg Park. Each event brought in over 100 children and their families. With raffles, games, and prizes, both events were a real treat for our patrons.

We would like to thank Dee-Ann Torres, Margie Gonzalez, Ventura Gacia and Dennise Zimmerman for donating the bikes for our Festivals. We would also like to thank all of the vendors who came out to help make our event a success. We appreciate you.

CASA Volunteer Recruitment Efforts Underway in Jim Wells County

As the number of children in the custody of the Department of Family and Protective Services continues to rise, Brush Country CASA ramps up the search for community volunteers who will speak up for children in foster care. Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) volunteers are desperately needed and right now there are more children in local foster care than the current volunteer base can serve. New CASA billboards have been placed in Alice, two off of N. Flournoy Road near Pizza Hut and one off of E. Main Street across from Pueblo Tires. Brush Country CASA will also host monthly information sessions on the second Wed. of the month from 12:00 pm to 12:45 pm at the Alice Chamber of Commerce, 612 E. Main Street. Anyone interested in becoming a CASA is encouraged to attend! 
"Our children are our greatest resource. It is very important that their voice is heard as they journey through the foster care system," said Nicole Ortegon, Outreach Director. "Our need for volunteers is urgent so we ask the citizens of Alice to take a stand against abuse and neglect, and advocate for our local children."
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. This volunteer guides the child through the child protective system with the goal of finding 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 gather information and report to the Judge, while advocating for the child’s physical, mental and emotional needs. CASA volunteers are not foster parents; they are highly trained community advocates with a powerful voice for a child or sibling group.
To learn how you can help children in your community, please join us for our first monthly info session on Wed. March 14th from 12:00 pm - 12:45 pm at the Alice Chamber of Commerce. Not from Alice? Find your local CASA program at 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.  Every child deserves a chance... It's YOU! Join the movement. Step up to help local kids today! Call now to get started.

CASA Welcomes New Volunteers

It is with great pleasure that we welcome a our newest CASA volunteers. These individuals have chosen to be a part of our program because of our mutual passion for children. Your 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.
To learn how you can help children in your community, find your local CASA program at 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!
Photo 1: From Left to Right- Bayley Irby, Cindy Christian, Ofelia Jimenez and Judge Jaime E. Carrillo.
Photo 2: From Left to Right - Autumn Peterson Williams, Julieana Harris, Judge Jame E. Carrillo, Sandra Rideout - Hanzak and Terry Hanzak
Photo 3: Allie Melendez, Nancy DeLeon and Judge Jaime E. Carrillo

Texas Bar Foundation Donates to CASA

    Since its inception in 1965, the Texas bar Foundation has awarded more than $17 million in grants to law-related programs. Supported by members of the State Bar of Texas, the Texas Bar Foundation is the nation's largest charitably-funded bar foundation. On April 28, 2017, the Texas Bar Foundation awarded $5,000 to Brush Country CASA. 
    CASA or Court Appointed Special Advocates, is a non-profit organization who recruits, trains a supports community volunteers. CASA volunteers get to know a child and everyone involved in the child's life to speak up for their best interest while in the foster care system. CASA volunteers help to keep abused and neglected children safe until they find a permanent, forever home. Volunteers are not foster parents; they are a voice making a difference at a critical point in a child's life. 
    Brush Country CASA is grateful to the Texas Bar Foundation for their continued support. This grant will take us one step closer to reaching our goal of serving 100% of the children who are currently navigating through the foster care system alone. 
    You can make a difference! We are now seeking community volunteers in Brooks, Duval, Jim Wells, Kleberg and Kenedy Counties. There were 302 children in our service area in foster care in 2016 and the number continues to grow. To learn more about becoming a CASA volunteer, please contact Nicole Ortegon at 361.595.7233 or visit Stand up for a child, so that they can stand a chance.

CASA Day at the Capital is Around the Corner

CASA Day at the Capital is Around the Corner
Registration is now open for the 2017 CASA Day at the Capitol on Thursday, February 16, 2017.
The 2017 CASA Day at the Capitol is the day advocates join together, in a shared voice, to advocate for Texas children! Hundreds of CASA advocates from all over the state will fill the state capitol to share their personal stories of advocacy and discuss legislation that can impact the lives of children.
CASA Day at the Capitol is open to the entire CASA network of volunteers, staff and board members. Capitol Day is a free event. You must register to attendPlease contact Nicole at the CASA office, 361.595.7233 or by email at, for more information on how to register.


Legislative advocacy refers to efforts to influence the introduction, enactment, or modification of legislation. The most common means of legislative advocacy is direct lobbying, which entails contacting a legislator, sharing your views on an issue, and asking him or her to vote a specific way on a bill.
Because it works! We can make a powerful impact on the child protection system by speaking up for children at the Capitol as well as in the courts. Legislators are more likely to listen and take action on a bill if they hear from their constituents that it is important. Without the help of volunteers across Texas, our priority bills are less likely to be successful. Your voice matters!
For the same reasons that they are effective advocates in court! CASA volunteers are: 
• Well trained to speak up for children professionally and persuasively.
• Motivated to serve the best interest of Texas’ most vulnerable children. 
• Motivated by the best interests of children and don’t have financial incentives or other hidden agendas when they speak up for children. 
• Community members, constituents and voters, which brings perspective and power to their advocacy. 
• Knowledgeable about how the child protection system works (and doesn’t work) and can share personal case examples of each, which helps to put a face on the issues. 
• Passionate about helping children. Their passion is contagious!
A Legislative Advocacy Team (LAT) is a group of committed CASA volunteers who take their advocacy for children to the next level by using the experience and knowledge they have gained as volunteers to advocate for change in the child protection system. Each LAT has at least one chair: a volunteer who agrees to be the face of the LAT and the point of contact for the group. In addition to the chair, there is at least one CASA staffer who is responsible for supporting the team.
LATs enable volunteers to experience advocating for children on a larger scale. Knowing that you and other CASAs all over the state are working toward solutions to problems many of you encounter can bring another degree of satisfaction to your role as an advocate. You can be the voice to create change not only for the child(ren) for whom you advocate, but for every child in the child protection system!
There are many things that members of LATs can do, depending on their availability and comfort level. Some members feel comfortable writing letters to support changes to the system. Others might want to directly interact with legislators and their staff by meeting with them or inviting them to CASArelated events. CASA volunteers may testify before legislative committees, sharing a particular experience they have had in order to illustrate the relevancy of a bill. We encourage LATs to brainstorm activities quarterly, with Texas CASA’s assistance and support.


Texas Independence Day set for March 4, 2017

The Kingsville Auto Club (KAC) has scheduled thier Texas Independence Day Car Show for March 4, 2017 at the Community Life Center Parking Lot on W. Kleberg Avenue in Kingsville, Texas. Pre-Registration is from 9 am - 11 am., show is from 11 am to 3 pm and awards will be presented at 2:45 pm. Spectators are welcome.

This is an open car show, so if you would like to show off your unique vehicle please feel free to register. Registration is $25 per vehicle and includes a T-shirt and dash plaque for the first 50 entries. Awards will be presented for the “TOP TEN”, Club Favorite, Bob Neely Memorial & Red Klassen Memorial.

Kingsville Auto Club is a car club open to all who have an interest in or own antiques, classics, street rods or other special interest vehicles. Each year the KAC hosts the Texas Independence Day Car show in an effort to raise money for two local non-profit organizations. Animal Rescue Kingsville (ARK), whose purpose is to place homeless and neglected cats and dogs into permanent homes. Their long-term goal is to reduce the number of stray animals in our community. In addition, they promote public awareness regarding the welfare of animals, and the prevention of over poulation by spaying and neutering. Brush Country Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) is a non-profit organization whose mission is: to provide trained and qualified Court Appointed community Volunteers to Advocate for the best interests of Children who are before the Court as a result of abuse or neglect as defined by the State Child Welfare Laws.

For more information, contact:
Pres., Gene Rogers,(361) 246-0005 or Sec., Laura Pollard, (361) 592-6802

Nominate a CASA Campaign Underway


Texas CASA's nominate a CASA campaign is underway!! This is an amazing opportunity for CASA programs to mulitiply by having existing volunteers, stakeholders, and friends of CASA nominate a friend to join in on this premier volunteer expereience.
If you know someone who you feel has the heartstrength and compassion to speak up for children, let us know!
Court Appointed Special Advocates are volunteers who pledge to give their time helping children move through the foster care system. They are not foster parents, but advocates who speak on behalf of a child at court hearings and use their voice to put the best interests of the child first.
Being a CASA volunteer takes a special kind of person. If you know someone who you believe has the qualities to give children another chance, visit and enter their information. Texas CASA will send them more information and let them know that you think so highly of them!
Don't have computer access, contact any of our CASA staff to help you submit your nomination!

2017 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.)

Did you know that Texas CASA has a 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
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! Turn these into Nicole Johnson to ensure that your continuing education hours are being accounted for correctly.

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

When in doubt shoot Nicole an email, 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!!!