November Volunteer of the Month – Marie Taggart

Marie and EvanThe Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program of the Second Judicial District has selected Marie Taggart of Manilla as its Volunteer of the Month for November 2017.  Taggart has served as a CASA volunteer since July 2017. Volunteers serve as sworn officers of the court, and help to investigate and gather information on cases when children are removed from a home due to abuse or neglect.  The CASA information is provided to a judge who makes the decision whether appropriate steps have been taken to return the children to the home or to find them new, safe and permanent homes.

 

“I first heard of CASA from a friend of mine who works for DHS. She mentioned the hardships these families face in the court system.  I asked what I could do to help and that is when she directed me to CASA,” said Taggart.  She then added “I reached out, applied and I’ve been hooked ever since.”

 

Taggart says she loves getting to visit with children and working to make sure they have what they need in their lives.  “I love kids and I love to see them happy,” stated Taggart.

 

She is currently advocating on behalf of 7 children in 3 separate cases. Marie is always first to step-up and help CASA out no matter what is needed.  Taggart’s Advocate Coordinator, Evan Clower states “Marie has gone above and beyond. She is willing to do whatever it takes to be the best voice for children in her cases and her passion is unmatched and inspiring to everyone in our organization.”

 

When asked why others should become a CASA Taggart said “It’s simple, the children are our future and being an advocate and part of their lives is so rewarding.”  “Twelve hours per month is not a whole lot to ask from any of us and that is all the time it takes to give a disadvantaged child a voice,” said Taggart

October Volunteer of the Month – Natalie Jarrett

Natalie Jarrett- October 2017The Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program of the Second Judicial District has selected Natalie Jarrett as its Volunteer of the Month for October 2017.  Jarrett has served as a CASA volunteer since March 2017. Volunteers serve as sworn officers of the court, and help to investigate and gather information on cases when children are removed from a home due to abuse or neglect.  The CASA information is provided to a judge who makes the decision whether appropriate steps have been taken to return the children to the home or to find them new, safe and permanent homes.

 

“I first heard about CASA when a staff member spoke to one of my Social Work classes about the need for CASA volunteers and the impact a CASA volunteer has on a child’s life. I had already been looking for a place to volunteer with and I knew this would be a great fit since I am passionate about working with children and had plans to adopt one day,” said Jarrett

 

Natalie’s first case was a sibling set of 5 in Poinsett County. “This case was very interesting. The one thing I really enjoyed about it was how the parents were 100% honest with me from the moment I met them. The parents did what was asked of them and the children were able to be reunified with the parents. This was a great case to get my feet in the water,” said Jarrett.

 

Jarrett’s Advocate Coordinator, Michael Graham, nominated Jarett for Volunteer of the Month for October. “It was an easy choice for me. Natalie exemplifies the CASA experience with her attitude, enthusiasm, and volunteerism work ethic. She approached her first case with the dedication and drive of a seasoned pro. She is so special and anyone that has been around her recognizes this right away,” stated Graham.

 

What surprised Jarrett the most about her CASA Volunteer work was seeing the amount of children who benefitted from having a CASA volunteer and then the overwhelming need for more CASA volunteers. “I didn’t realize how many children were in the foster care system. We definitely need more CASA volunteers so they can build that strong relationship with the child and be able to advocate for their best interest,” added Jarrett.

 

Jarrett’s favorite thing about her CASA experience was the many doors that it opened for her to meet other people who want to make a difference in the lives of children. “My Advocate Coordinator was so helpful. I have enjoyed getting to know the other volunteers and the staff and attend the volunteer appreciation events. The training I got was great and prepared me well to take on my first case,” said Jarrett.

 

Jarett is from Harrisburg, Arkansas and is married with two children. She is in the process of completing her Social Work degree at Arkansas State University.

September Volunteer of the Month – Tad Margolis

Tad Margolis September 2017The Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program of the Second Judicial District has selected Dr. Tad Margolis as its Volunteer of the Month for September 2017.  Margolis has served as a CASA volunteer since December 2016. Volunteers serve as sworn officers of the court, and help to investigate and gather information on cases when children are removed from a home due to abuse or neglect.  The CASA information is provided to a judge who makes the decision whether appropriate steps have been taken to return the children to the home or to find them new, safe and permanent homes.

 

“I was serving on the Craighead Community Foundation when I heard how CASA was looking to start a program with a focus on teenagers. This sparked my interest in wanting to become a CASA Volunteer because I love working with children and enjoy volunteering,” said Margolis.

 

Margolis picked up two cases the day she got sworn in as a CASA Volunteer. “They were a set of six siblings and all were attending the same school district at the time. Unfortunately, now they are all spread throughout the state. I have been working closely with the Attorney Ad-Litem and other resources to make sure they kids have all the things they need in their current placement,” Margolis added.

“The dedication Tad has shown to the kids in her cases is inspiring to me. She goes above and beyond to ensure the best interest of the child is known by court personnel. She focuses on the most pressing needs of the children and they all know that they truly have a friend in Tad,” stated Executive Director, Jeremy Biggs.

 

“I feel like I am making a difference. The kids love me and although there have been many changes throughout their time in foster care, I have been that constant for them, said Margolis. “I love going to their school and having lunch with them. I love that they include me in life events, birthday parties, dance recitals, and more.”

 

Not only does Margolis spend some of her free time with CASA, she is also married to Dr. Margolis and they have a 13 year old son. She was elected to be one of the AR State School Board Regional Directors. She has had much experience volunteering in her community with Junior Auxiliary, Humane Society, Church Health Center, and the Parent Teacher Association.

CASA Seeks Advocate Coordinator

CASA of the 2nd Judicial District is seeking applicants for an Advocate Coordinator position. This position is full-time. The Advocate Coordinator is responsible for recruiting, training, coaching and building strong relationships with volunteers who serve as Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA’s) for children in the foster care system. Bachelor’s degree in social sciences, marketing, public relations or related field, or equivalent work experience with case management, human resource management and/or volunteer management experience preferred.  Previous experience with CASA preferred. Position will be based in Jonesboro. Some travel involved. Must undergo criminal background and child abuse central registry check.  Please mail cover letter and resume to CASA Search Committee, 311 South Church Street, Ste. G, Jonesboro, AR 72401.  You may also email cover letter and resume to jeremy.biggs@neacasa.org.

August Volunteer of the Month – Patty Harris

Patty HarrisThe Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program of the Second Judicial District has selected Patty Harris as its Volunteer of the Month for August 2017.  Harris has served as a CASA volunteer since June 2016. Volunteers serve as sworn officers of the court, and help to investigate and gather information on cases when children are removed from a home due to abuse or neglect.  The CASA information is provided to a judge who makes the decision whether appropriate steps have been taken to return the children to the home or to find them new, safe and permanent homes.

 

“My husband actually introduced me to CASA. After being foster parents for 15 years, we wanted to help the children in foster care in a different way and my husband learned about CASA’s mission. We love children and want to see them in a loving family so we decided to become volunteers together so we could share in the experience,” Harris said.

 

“Patty is now working her second case since she became a volunteer. She did so well advocating for a permanent and safe place for the child in her first case. She built strong relationships with everyone in the case in order to make sure the baby’s needs were being met. She was met with some challenges in the case as all will experience but she overcame them with grace and always had the best interest of the child in mind. I asked her if she would take another case once her case closed and she did. She now is advocating for five siblings,” stated Program Manager, Megan Mitchell Brown.

 

When asked what surprised them the most about her volunteer experience with CASA, Harris stated, “nothing really. I have seen a lot with being a foster parent in the past. There were things that were frustrating in working my case, but that is normal. I kept my focus on the child and knew that I was doing the best that I could as her advocate.”

 

When Patty is not volunteering, you can find her spending time with her husband, Danny, of 40 years, taking care of her grandson, and taking taekwondo.

July Volunteer of the Month – Marilynn Brasher

July VolunteerCourt Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of the Second Judicial District has selected Marilynn Brasher as the Volunteer of the Month for July.  Brasher, who is from Paragould, has been a volunteer since March 2016. Volunteers serve as sworn officers of the court, and help to investigate and gather information on cases when children are removed from a home due to abuse or neglect.  Brasher states, “being a CASA volunteer is hard, it’s frustrating, it’s rewarding and most of all, being a CASA volunteer is one of the BEST things I’ve ever done in my life”.

 

Amanda Frankenberger, Brasher’s Coordinator, says “Marilynn has the biggest heart and she has worked extremely hard this summer on behalf of a large sibling group in her case”. Without volunteers like Marilynn, CASA would not exist. “CASA is essential for children in foster care. It’s the perfect fit for me and has granted me an opportunity to give back to the community – to be a Voice for the Child. Most importantly, CASA always strives to keep what is in the best interest of the child”, Brasher added.

 

CASA appreciates the work Marilynn has accomplished and the many benefits it has brought children in foster care. If you are interested in becoming a child advocate please contact CASA at 870-935-1099 or visit them online at www.neacasa.org.

June Volunteer of the Month – Shannon Horton

unnamedThe Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program of the Second Judicial District has selected Shannon Horton as its Volunteer of the Month for May 2017.  Horton has served as a CASA volunteer since January 2017. Volunteers serve as sworn officers of the court, and help to investigate and gather information on cases when children are removed from a home due to abuse or neglect.

 

“I had been thinking about becoming a CASA volunteer for years, but I wanted to wait until my child was older, so I would have more time to invest. I knew this year was the perfect timing for me, mentally and situationally. I am passionate about working with children and wanted to be a voice for a child,” Horton said.

 

Jerri Mae Willis, Horton’s Advocate Coordinator said Horton worked hard to get a sibling group placed with a grandmother out of state. “That took calling the ICPC people in the grandmother’s state and in Little Rock and staying on top of it. Instead of it taking six months for this process, she and the DHS Program Assistant got this done in two short months; she called and emailed both states until they made it happen!”

 

When asked what surprised her most about her volunteer experience with CASA, Horton states, “It has actually surprised me how much the skills I use at work are being used here in my volunteer work: the researching, the investigating, the need to stay organized and on top of things.” Horton added, “It is such a cool feeling to see the hard work you put in advocating for these children. To see them taken care of, to see them happy; it feels like something I have never felt before. It is indescribable. They slowly just become your children and that’s my job, to do everything I can to protect these children.”

Horton is from Jonesboro, Arkansas. She enjoys hanging out with her husband and son when she is not volunteering with CASA.

May Volunteer of the Month – Jerry Wilcox

Jerry WilcoxThe Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program of the Second Judicial District has selected Jerry Wilcox as its Volunteer of the Month for April 2017.  A retired teacher and pastor, Wilcox has served as a CASA volunteer since October 2016.

 

“My wife, Cathey, was a volunteer for a year when I decided to become one too. I knew she was traveling a lot for her case and I thought if I became a volunteer too, I could travel with her and could help her out on her case.”Wilcox enjoyed working alongside of his wife; he eventually decided to take a case of his own. “My first case went very well. I was able to be a big help for the judge, the child, and the family. Now I am taking my second case and am working with a teenager.”

 

“Jerry worked his first case diligently and with immediate interest.  The case had many complications with all the different people involved.  He sorted through all of this and continually kept the interest of his child in mind. I never had to remind him to visit his child, never had to refocus his efforts or redirect his purpose.  He is a natural advocate that uses his life experiences and our training to guide him to the best solutions,” says Wilcox’s Advocate Coordinator, Michael Graham.

 

When asked what surprised him the most about his volunteer experience with CASA, Wilcox states, “the positive response from the people involved in the case surprised me; everyone genuinely wanted to help. I was also surprised to see how overburden the department is with so many cases and so few people to work the system.” Wilcox realizes there is a need out there for people to work with these children in the foster care system. “Anyone who has a genuine concern for children should investigate on how to become a CASA Advocate. I do not have to take any case, but I can choose to take a case that is requested of me and that is big on volunteering.”

 

Wilcox is from Black Oak, Arkansas. He retired from pastoring churches in Arkansas in 2014 and retired from teaching school in Trumann in 2006. His wife Cathey is an Advocate Coordinator for Poinsett County and they have three children and six grandchildren.

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month

C8hTLqqXUAA83GUNational Child Abuse Prevention Month, also known as Child Abuse Prevention Month in America, is an annual observance in the United States dedicated to raising awareness and preventing child abuse. April has been designated Child Abuse Prevention Month in the United States since 1983. Unfortunately, the number of abused and neglected children entering foster care in Arkansas continues to rise each year. Our volunteers advocate on behalf of hundreds of these children each year and play an essential role in finding safe and permanent housing for children. We believe  every child deserves a chance to succeed and grow up in a safe, stable, and nurturing environment that is free from abuse and neglect.

Strong, nurturing communities that are supportive of families can get involved and play a role in preventing child abuse and neglect and promoting child and family well-being. If you want to no more about preventing child abuse or volunteering with CASA please contact us at 870-935-1099 complete an application on this website today.

March Volunteer of the Month – Jeremy Sheffer

J ShefferCongratulations to Jeremy Sheffer for being selected as our Volunteer of the Month for March! Jeremy is dedicated to being a voice for children in foster in Greene County.

Volunteers serve as sworn officers of the court, and help to investigate and gather information on cases when children have been removed from a home due to abuse or neglect.  The CASA information is provided to a judge who makes the decision whether appropriate steps have been taken to return the children to the home or to find them new, safe and permanent homes.  CASA volunteers also visit with the child or children at least two times a month to see if they are in a safe place, and if there are any items that might need to be addressed. They discuss current issues and interests of the children and intervene when assistance is required or requested

Jeremy has been a volunteer with CASA for two years and is one of our most trusted advocates.  “He is a busy man and he does an amazing job with his volunteer work”, said advocate coordinator Jeremy Irvin. Jeremy is a Crop Production Sales Manager for MFA Agri and has two teenage daughters.

Thank you Jeremy for your service and dedication to foster children in Greene County!