Barry Bryant Named Volunteer of the Month for July

Barry BryantThe Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program of the Second Judicial District has selected Barry Bryant as Volunteer of the Month for July.  Barry has served as an advocate since April of 2018. 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 saw a news story about the impact CASA makes on children in foster care and thought what a great way to give back ” Bryant stated. When asked what surprised him about CASA work Bryant responded “The amount of caring people that are looking out for the welfare of these children on a daily basis.  Just the other day I witnessed an attorney cry tears of joy after telling children they could spend extended time with their family.”

 

He encourages others to volunteer and become a CASA. “ Spend one hour with one of these kids and you will see why we do what we do.  Becoming a CASA volunteer is something you can do in your spare time and the CASA coordinators are there to support you through the journey.”  “If I can make a difference in a child’s life they may then grow up to help others in their life, so the cycle continues” Bryant added.

 

When asked what the best part of being an advocate is Bryant stated, “Seeing a smile on a child’s face and knowing that you are one of the people responsible for putting it there.” To find out more on how you can become a child advocate with CASA visit www.neacasa.org or call 870-935-1099.

Barbara Kuhn Named Advocate Rookie of the Quarter

Barbara Kuhn (2)The Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program of the Second Judicial District is proud to announce Barbara Kuhn as the Rookie of the Quarter for the second quarter of 2018. Barbara joined the CASA team in April of this year.. 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.

 

“Barbara has hit the ground running and is advocating to the fullest extent for the children in her case”, stated Evan Clower, Kuhn’s advocate coordinator. Her knowledge of the legal system has proved very beneficial to her case work and she truly has the best interest of the children at heart”, added Clower.

 

When asked what the best part about being a CASA was Kuhn responded “helping the children, being a friend to the children, the children are number one. You feel like what you do is important and being a voice for those kids in the court system is very important. I have a passion to help them. I feel like I’m making a difference. I’m very honored to be a CASA Volunteer, this has my heart.

Many new volunteers caught by different surprises when working their first case.  “The depth of how overwhelmed the system is and how everyone is overworked was eye-opening to me.  My first case stole my heart and that was surprising. What has also surprised me is how important the CASA volunteers are“, stated Kuhn. She also encouraged others to become a Court Appointed Special Advocate adding, “Everyone that has a heart for children should do their part. There is an epidemic in this world, county, and state and our children need us.

Bodie Wray Named June Volunteer of the Month

bodie wrayThe Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program of the Second Judicial District has selected Bodie Wray as its Volunteer of the Month for June. Bodie has served as a CASA volunteer since September of 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.

 

“Becoming child advocates was a way for my wife and I to volunteer as a couple.  We both love children and believed that we could be a positive influence in helping underprivileged children.  As we learned more about CASA we felt the calling to get involved to make a difference in a child’s life”,

Wray said.

 

When asked what the best part about being a CASA was he responded “being involved with children who are reunited with parents has been the most satisfying in knowing that they have a home and someone to love them.  For the children in group homes with no family and no place to go, it is rewarding to be an advocate for them and see the positive changes that we can make in their life.  Sometimes, it is the simplest things that can brighten a child’s life like being able to call and talk to someone when they have no one. “

 

Connie Lindley, who is Wray’s advocate coordinator, stated “Bodie is one of the most dependable volunteers we have. He is always looking out for the best interest of the children and has been that person the children can depend on.”  Wray encourages others to become a CASA volunteer stating “this is an opportunity to be a positive influence for children going thru a very difficult time in their lives.” He and his wife, Jenafer, volunteer together and have found that working as a team has many advantages. “Not only did it make it easier to volunteer as we could share the duties of the case load it also created common time together.

Leslie Stallcup Named May Volunteer of the Month

Leslie StallcupThe Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program of the Second Judicial District has selected Leslie Stallcup as Volunteer of the Month for May.  Leslie has served as an advocate since October of 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.

 

Leslie first heard about CASA in the workplace and was a friend of Amanda Frankenberger, CASA Program Manager. “I thought being an advocate would be a way I could contribute to making a child’s time in foster care less difficult” Stallcup stated. When asked what surprised here about CASA work Stallcup responded “The court process was surprising to me.  As an advocate you want to really make a difference right away but you have to be patient and realize the system doesn’t work at quickly as you hoped.”

 

After being assigned her first case Leslie went right to work getting to know the children and what led to them being removed from their home. “I was introduced to the case after it had already been going on for almost a year.  There was quite a bit of research to complete in order to get familiar with the situation” she stated.

 

Leslie lives in Beech Grove and is married to her husband of ten years, Cliff.  She is employed as a social worker in Greene County Tech school district. To find out more on how you can become a child advocate with CASA visit www.neacasa.org or call 870-935-1099.

April Volunteers of the Month

April VolunteersMary and Miranda are a mother-daughter teams that went thru training together and are working the same case.  They heard about CASA from another advocate and were determined to help children in need. “I have a passion to help children, and it feels like if you can change direction at an early age they would be successful as an adult,” Sellars stated. When asked hat surprised here about CASA work Erickson responded “I was surprised at how this work has softened my heart towards the parents going through this.  I knew I would love the kids and be cheering them on, but I’ve always been a little harsh on adults. I realized without knowing their background story, it is not fair to judge them just by what you see on the surface. “

 

Their first case involved 7 siblings who all experienced some type of trauma. “It was a very complicated case, but rewarding and the kids were so sweet,” stated Sellars. They have since worked on two additional cases and continue to be a strong voice for children in foster care.

 

When asked what the best thing about being a CASA is Erickson said “My favorite thing is how much I’ve learned. It changes your heart and makes you look at life and people in a different light. It is one of the most rewarding things I’ve done.  They both encouraged others to look into becoming a CASA advocate and being someone a child in foster care can trust to help them out.

February Volunteer of the Month – Kassie Haynes

Kassie HaynesThe Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program of the Second Judicial District has selected Kassie Haynes as the Volunteer of the Month for January.  Kassie has served as a CASA volunteer since August 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 love working with children and have a special place in my heart for kids in foster care. I know how over-burdened our entire system is and being a CASA volunteer is one way that I can help out”, Haynes said when asked why she volunteers. She added “I believe the experiences we have as children affect us the rest of our lives, so even though I cannot prevent terrible things to happening, I can advocate for their best interest and use my skills to make sure they are on the right track.”

Kassie says she has known about CASA since she was a counselor at a middle school.  A CASA volunteer came to her meet with her about one of her students.  “I was amazed that there were people who volunteered to be another set of eyes and ears on a DCFS case and helped guide these children through a very difficult time in their lives”, stated Haynes.  When she moved back to Northeast Arkansas she kept hearing advertisements about the need for CASA volunteers, but never felt like the time was right. Eventually, a co-worker who had worked for CASA before talked her into signing up and she did. Kassie says she has learned alot in working as a CASA and her first case has a very happy ending pending and she is excited about the upcoming adoption day!

Kassie is married to Tom Haynes and they have two beautiful daughters. She works for Arkansas PROMISE, where she works with teenagers with disabilities to help them transition from high school to career.

January Volunteer of the Month – Aaron Baldridge

Aaron BaldridgeThe Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program of the Second Judicial District has selected Aaron Baldridge as the Volunteer of the Month for January.  Baldridge has served as a CASA volunteer since February 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.

 

“My niece and nephew were adopted through foster care and I saw a need for people to help these children”, said Baldridge when asked why he became a CASA. He said he heard about CASA on a news story and called the next day to become an advocate. “I enjoy seeing all of the positive changes in the lives of children I work with and spending time with them is so much fun”, he added.

 

Aaron is currently assigned to two cases in Poinsett County.  Baldridge’s Advocate Coordinator, Michael Graham states “Aaron has evolved with the cases he has been assigned to. He has no problems working through hurdles that arise in his case work and failure is not an option for him.”

 

When asked why others should become a CASA Baldridge said “because you can make a difference”.  The work you do is time-flexible and can fit into any schedule and it is by far the most rewarding work I have ever done.”

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.