TAMUK Criminology Club Donates Teddy Bears to CASA

Each year the Criminology Club at Texas A&M University Kingsville holds a Teddy Bear Drive for Brush Country CASA. This year over 100 stuffed animals were collected making this the biggest donation to date. Thank you to the Criminology Club for their outstanding contribution to Brush Country CASA. The children are going to love them!

Candlelight Vigils

Brush Country CASA, Child Protective Services and the Child Welfare Board held Candlelight Vigils in Brooks, Jim Wells and Kleberg Counties in observation of Child Abuse Prevention Month. Key figures in our community were present to speak about child abuse in our own backyards. We are so grateful for everyone who helped to make this years Vigils a success.

 
 

Usborne Books & More Consultant Hosts Raffle for CASA

Heather Bilbrey, an Educational Consultant for Usborne Books & More, has been familiar with Brush Country CASA for some time. Due to time constraints, Mrs. Bilbrey knew that she could not volunteer as an advocate; however, she decided to help out in a different way.

Mrs. Bilbrey joined forces with Jeanette Yocum, Usborne Books & More Educational Consultant, to raise funds by raffling off a "Basket of Books" filled with some of their most popular children's books. Usborne and Kane Miller books are the most exciting, engaging and educational books on the market today. They are high in quality, innovative, lavishly-illustrated and best of all, they are the books kids love to read.

Usborne Books & Moore will be matching 50% of the funds raised through the Basket of Books Raffle. The funds will then be used to purchase books for the 112 children being served by Brush Country CASA.

Brush Country CASA or Court Appointed Special Advocates, is a non-profit organization who recruits, trains, and supports community volunteers as they help to guide children through the foster care system by getting to know the child and everyone involved in the child's life. The volunteer then speaks up for their best interests in court. As a CASA volunteer you are not a foster parent, you are a voice making a difference at a critical point in a child's life.

Congratulations to Melody Cadena for winning the raffle! We hope you enjoy your new Usborne Books!

Heather Bilbrey, an Educational Consultant for Usborne Books & More, has been familiar with Brush Country CASA for some time. Due to time constraints, Mrs. Bilbrey knew that she could not volunteer as an advocate; however, she decided to help out in a different way. 
 
Mrs. Bilbrey joined forces with Jeanette Yocum, Usborne Books & More Educational Consultant, to raise funds by raffling off a "Basket of Books" filled with some of their most popular children's books. Usborne and Kane Miller books are the most exciting, engaging and educational books on the market today. They are high in quality, innovative, lavishly-illustrated and best of all, they are the books kids love to read. 
 
Usborne Books & Moore will be matching 50% of the funds raised through the Basket of Books Raffle. The funds will then be used to purchase books for the 112 children being served by Brush Country CASA. 
 
Brush Country CASA or Court Appointed Special Advocates, is a non-profit organization who recruits, trains, and supports community volunteers as they help to guide children through the foster care system by getting to know the child and everyone involved in the child's life. The volunteer then speaks up for their best interests in court. As a CASA volunteer you are not a foster parent, you are a voice making a difference at a critical point in a child's life.
 
Congratulations to Melody Cadena for winning the raffle!! 

Plea to the Community Lunch and Learn

CASA Volunteers help to keep abused and neglected children safe while they reach a safe, permanent home. They do this by gathering information regarding a child or sibling group and speaking up for them in court. Children in foster care with CASA volunteers are less likely to be in long-term foster care, more likely to get the services they need to heal and thrive, more likely to have positive attitudes about their futures and more likely to pass all of their classes in school. Unfortunately, we do not have enough volunteers to serve the children in our community. Children are falling through the cracks of the system and there is no one there to speak up for them.

In an effort to raise community awareness and hopefully recruit new volunteers, CASA decided to move forward with a "Plea to the Community" campaign which was a series of events specifically geared towards recruitment and community education.

On March 31, 2016, over 30 people were in attendance as Rita Sandt, MS, LPC, Senior Foster Care Trainer for Cenpatico, gave an outstanding presentation about Child Abuse and Neglect.

We would like to extend a special thank you to Coastal Bend College, HEB and Rita Sandt for helping make this event a great success

CASA Volunteer Swear In

Brush Country CASA is proud to welcome Claudia DeLaTorre into our wonderful group of dedicated advocates. She was sworn in by Judge Pete DelaGarza on March 21, 2016 in Kingsville, Texas. CASA volunteers offer children a consistent helping hand to guide them through the foster care system and a strong voice speaking up on their behalf.

CASA volunteers are not a foster parents, they are the voice making a difference at a critical point in a child's life. Help make sure that no child falls through the cracks of the system. Please call Nicole at 361.595.7233 for more information

Easter Celebration and Health Fair

An Easter Celebration and Community Health Fair was scheduled for March 19, 2016 at the high school in Falfurrias, Texas. Multiple booths with different services such as monitoring blood sugar and blood pressure readings were present. They also had vendors providing valuable health and wellness information. Perhaps the best part of the event was the amazing performances by the students in the Falfurrias Independent School District.
Thank you so much for allowing CASA to take part in this amazing event. We had a blast!

Alice Rotary Club Presentation

Brush Country CASA would like to give a special thank you to the Alice Rotary Club for inviting Nicole to give a presentation at their weekly meeting. We are truly grateful to have been able to share our passion for CASA with  the Alice Rotary Club.

Presentation – Kappa Delta Pi

Brush Country CASA was invited to give a presentation to Kappa Delta Pi (KDP). KPD, International Honor Society in Education, was founded in 1911 to foster excellence in education and promote fellowship among those dedicated to teaching.
 
Ashley Martinez, KPD President, chose CASA as the recipient for their Spring service event. On April 24, 2016 members of KPD along with CASA staff will be at Wal-Mart in Kingsville collecting backpacks and monetary donations. All of the proceeds will benefit Brush Country CASA. Come out and show your support for Kappa Delta Pi and Brush Country CASA!

2nd Annual Easter Eggstravaganza

On March 6, 2016 the County Attorney's Office held the 2nd Annual Easter Eggstravaganza which included activities for the children, door prizes, information from various resource centers in our community and an Easter Egg Hunt.  The event is held to encourage the Community to stand together against crime. Whether dealing with issues of domestic violence, child abuse or any type of crime, it is important for us to stand together and report lawlessness in our community.

Texas Independence Day Car Show

The Kingsville Auto Club hosted the Texas Independence Day Car Show to benefit Brush Country CASA and the Animal Rescue Kleberg (ARK). This year the Car Show was held on March 5, 2016. Approximately 50 vehicles entered for a chance to win an award which included "Top Ten", Club Favorite and Bob Neely & Red Klassen Memorials.  Brush Country CASA would like to thank the Kingsville Auto Club for their continued support and belief in our mission. 

Orange Grove Family Night Out Health Fair

Hundreds of people showed up for this years Orange Grove Family Night Out Health Fair on March 3, 2016. Over twenty exhibitors set up booths containing valuable information about the many services available in Jim Wells County. Brush Country CASA was among those exhibitors. Jennifer and Nicole spoke with many people about our program and the benefits it has for the children we serve. We are so grateful to have been invited to participate in this event and we look forward to next year.

 

CASA Welcomes New Volunteers

Brush Country CASA is proud to welcome two new volunteers into our wonderful group of dedicated advocates. Janie Mireles and Yesenia Rios Garcia were sworn in by Judge Pete DelaGarza on March 1, 2016 in Kingsville, Texas. CASA volunteers offer children a consistent helping hand to guide them through the foster care system and a strong voice speaking up on their behalf. 
 
CASA volunteers are not a foster parents, they are the voice making a difference at a critical point in a child's life. Help make sure that no child falls through the cracks of the system in Jim Wells County. Training Class will be beginning on March 8th at 5:30 pm at the CASA Office,1481 S. Flournoy in Alice, Texas.  Please call Nicole at 361.595.7233 for more information.
 
 
 

Child Welfare Primer & Champion Recognition Luncheon

More than 300 CASA supporters gathered at the Hilton in Austin Downtown for the Texas CASA Annual Forum on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016. This two-part event was intended to educate stakeholders in the child welfare community on emerging policy issues affecting foster children and to recognize leaders who have championed efforts on behalf of children in the child protection system. Among the crowd were representatives from our local CASA program, Brush Country CASA, which serves Brooks, Duval, Jim Wells, Kenedy and Kleberg Counties.
 
The Child Welfare Policy Primer was held in the morning and featured two panel discussions on important topics affecting the child protection system in Texas.
 
Following the Primer was the Champion Recognition Luncheon, where Texas CASA honored Texas Governor Greg Abbott and First Lady Cecilia Abbott for their support of CASA programs and children in state care, as well as their personal support for adoption. Gov. Abbott spoke movingly about child abuse and his goals for protecting Texas children from abuse and neglect. Texas CASA CEO Vicki Spriggs presented Texas Champion awards to both the Governor and First Lady.
 
 

Cupcakes for CASA

ASA volunteers and staff had a fantastic time making cupcakes for the Cupcakes for CASA Bake Sale which was held on
February 12, 2016 in an effort to raise community awareness about the CASA program. Molly Bickham, CASA volunteer, made 100 cupcakes and several flavors of frosting from scratch. The rest of the ladies decorated and packaged each individual cupcake. The preparation definitely  took longer than selling them. We sold out of cupcakes in about 1 hour!!!
 
Special thank you to everyone who helped make this event a success!! 

Cupcakes for CASA Bake Sale

This Valentines Day share your love with a child in foster care by supporting Brush Country CASA.
 
On February 12, 2016 Brush Country CASA will be hosting a Cupcakes for CASA Bake Sale at CVS in Alice, Texas from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm. Come out and learn more about the CASA program and pick up your homemade, individually gift wrapped cupcakes for only $2!! 
 
Help support your local CASA program as they empower ordinary people to serve as officers of the court and work with and on behalf of foster children. Our wonderful group of trained community volunteers make a lifelong difference in the lives of the children they represent.
 
The CASA gets to know a child in foster care by visiting them wherever they are placed, gathering information from everyone involved in the child's life and reporting information and recommendations to the court to help the court make informed decisions. The CASA volunteer advocates for the child in the foster care, educational, medical, mental health and court systems so that each child gets the individualized, sustained attention needed for the child to find a caring, safe, permanent home.
 
 
We are so grateful for Molly Bickham for everything you have done to kick off this event.  Thank you so very much from all of us here at Brush Country CASA.
 
 For more information regarding CASA please visit www.brushcountrycasa.org or call Nicole at 361.595.7233.

 

Brush Country CASA Receives Book Donation

Ashley Martinez, Texas A&M University Kingsville Student with a Major in Special Education, received a grant proposal assignment from her professor. Ms. Martinez chose Brush Country CASA as the recipient and began working on her grant proposal for Michael King, a local private donor, requesting to use the funds to purchase books for a local non-profit, Brush Country CASA.  
 
CASA or Court Appointed Special Advocates, is a non-profit organization who trains, recruits and most importantly supports community members as they offer children a consistent helping hand to guide them through the foster care system and a strong voice speaking on their behalf in court. Our local CASA program works hard to try and have items in the office to help make the experience of the children a little easier as our dedicated volunteers advocate for them. Thanks to some of our community members, we have toys, clothes and books for our volunteers to provide to the CASA children.
 
Thanks to Ms. Martinez's grant writing skills, she was awarded $700 which was used to purchase over 140 books from Barnes and Noble for Brush Country CASA.
 
Thank you so very much Ms. Martinez and Mr. King. The books will go a long way!
 
 
 

CASA Swears In New Vollunteers

New Year resolutions are different for everyone, but they all serve the same objective—to make life changes for the better. 
If you’re looking for a new way to make a change, resolve to help others in need. More than 24,000 children in the Texas foster care system need caring adults to look out for them.
 
Brush Country CASA is proud to welcome three new volunteers into our wonderful group of dedicated advocates. Shari Atwell, Nathan Bichard and Taylor Brewster were sworn in by Judge Martin Chiuminatto on January 12, 2016. CASA volunteers offer children a consistent helping hand in guiding them through the foster care system, along with a strong voice speaking up on their behalf. 
 
Start your year off by representing a child's best interest. Help make sure that no child falls through the cracks of the system in Kleberg County.  Contact Nicole at 361.595.7233 for more information.

Resolve to Help Foster Children Find Permanent Homes—Become a CASA

“Out with the old and in with the new”— is a phrase often used by those who make a list of resolutions at the start of every New Year.  Some resolve to kick bad habits like smoking or eating junk food; others may want to lose weight or spend less money.

Resolutions are different for everyone, but they all serve the same objective—to make life changes for the better.

If you’re looking for a new way to make changes, resolve to help others in need. More than 24,000 children in the Texas foster care system need caring adults to look out for them. They need a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate®) volunteer to help get through the foster care system as quickly as possible, and into loving homes where all their needs are met and their dreams can flourish.

Last year, 47,508 abused and neglected children were in the Texas foster care system. They were separated from their families, siblings, friends and other loved ones, and often placed in unfamiliar setting far away from their homes.

Child Protective Services workers usually handle two or three dozen cases, each of which can involve multiple children. As a result, many children fall through the cracks, stay in foster care longer than necessary and may not receive the help they need to begin to heal. The state of Texas is not a good parent. Every child deserves to grow up in a safe, permanent home.

Brush Country CASA has served 176 last year. More than 36 CASA volunteers spoke up for abused and neglected children who, through no fault of their own, ended up in foster care. Unfortunately, more than half of the children in care do not have CASA volunteers. 

How can you help? Consider becoming a CASA volunteer and make a difference in a child’s life and your own. Talk to your friends and family members about CASA or invite us to give a presentation to your co-workers, group or organization. The number one way we recruit volunteers is through word of mouth!! To learn more please contact Nicole Johnson by calling 361-595-7233 or email casarecruiter.7233@sbcglobal.net.

Every child in foster care needs someone to help them through this difficult time.

Community Pulls Together for Children in Foster Care

Thank you to all of our generous friends and supporters for contributing to an amazingly successful community wide toy drive. Your support secured that every child served by Brush Country CASA will have a brighter Christmas this year. Clearly, this will make a huge impact on the children in our community. We are forever grateful for your continued support and could not have done it without each and every one of you.
 
For children in foster care, the holidays can be a happy reminder of memories with their families. Just because a child comes from an abusive or neglectful home, doesn’t mean every moment was bad. Some children reminisce about the past with hope for the future.
However, if children are in foster care long enough, they can become cynical about Christmas. During a time meant for family togetherness, love and joy, they are in the custody of the state and far from loved ones. 
 
Every child in foster care needs someone to help them through this difficult time. They need a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) volunteer so that they can get through the foster care system as quickly as possible, and placed into safe, permanent homes, where they can spend holidays with their forever family.
 

Riviera National Honor Society

Riviera National Honor Society chose CASA as the beneficiary of their service project this holiday season. They collected 17 stuffed animals, 7 coats and one blanket for our CASA children. Thank you Riviera NHS!! Keep up the outstanding work!

Pictured: Nicole Johnson, Brush Country CASA Outreach Director, Michael Catter and Gilley Aguilar.

Zimmerman Law Firm

Zimmerman Law Firm held their annual Adopt an Angel Toy Drive and collected an astronomical amount of toys for the children in Kleberg County. Thank you to Zimmerman Law Firm and all of the community members who participated. It is because of your support that our children are sure to have a Merry Christmas this year.

Pictured: Jeffrey Byrd, Brush Country CASA Volunteer, Brenda Navarro, Brush Country CASA Administrative Assistant, Melissa Salinas, Zimmerman Law Firm, Nicole Poritsanos, Brush Country CASA Volunteer and Denise Zimmerman, Zimmerman Law Firm

Girl Scouts Troop 9220

Brush Country CASA is so grateful for our good friends in The Girl Scouts Troop 9220 for their continued support. This year the girls used their cookie money to provide presents for 17 children in foster care. Thank you so very much for your generosity, girls. It means a lot to Brush Country CASA and the children we serve! Special thank you to Robin Vitale (not pictured) for always lending a helping hand to Brush Country CASA.

Pictured: (top) Sofia Gomez, Jordan Montalvo, Dakota Vitale, Mikayla Salinas and Heaven Salazar
(bottom) Faith Salazar, Briana Cessor and Meagan Barcena.

Harrel Elementary

Students a Harrel Elementary School also contributed to our efforts. Thank you so much!!!

Navy Army Community Credit Union

Thank you to the staff and customers at Navy Army CCU!! We are so thankful to have friends like you in our community!

Pictured:Michelle Lozano and Nicole Johnson, Brush Country CASA Outreach Director

St. Thomas Aquinas Chapel and Newman Hall

St. Thomas Aquinas Chapel and Newman Hall held a toy drive for CASA this year which generated two large boxes of toys for the kiddos. Special thank you to Alex Lopez, Chris Mosher, Natalie James, Vanessa Valdez, Elizabeth Morales, Alexandria Brooks, Keleen McClure and all those who contributed to this toy drive. It was a BIG success! We appreciate all of you very much!!

The Cavalry Trail Riders Association

The Cavalry Trail Riders Association held a trail ride on December 5th in Orange Grove, Texas. The price to enter on the trail ride was an unwrapped toy for CASA. The Cavalry received a plethora of toys along with monetary donations which were used to purchase additional toys. Brush Country CASA was excited to participate in such a unique and exciting toy drive this holiday season. Thank you so very much to everyone involved in this fantastic organization. We had a blast!