Ashley Cupp January Volunteer of the Month

Ashley Cupp Jan. 2017 aCongratulations to Ashley Cupp, who is CASA’s Volunteer of the Month for January 2017.

Ashley is an office manager for Graham’s Farms in Paragould and mother of two, Cupp has served as a CASA volunteer since September 2016. 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.

“I wanted to make a difference in the life of a child in foster care and after attending a luncheon where I learned about CASA, I knew it was a perfect fit for that time in my life. I signed up that day to become a volunteer!”

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. “I had a set of siblings on my first case that were placed in separate homes. I knew that it was important for them to live together, so I made a   suggestion to the judge for them to be placed in a foster home together. They are now finally together in a wonderful foster home and are doing well.”

Every CASA volunteer has a Volunteer Coordinator that helps with all aspects of the work in addition to attending court hearings with them. “Ashley Cupp is a new volunteer that has completely impressed our program from day one,” says Amanda Frankenberger, Volunteer Coordinator/Supervisor of Greene County. “She is described by other CASA volunteers as ‘extremely organized and passionate.’” Frankenberger added, “She is absolutely amazing in Optima, our case management software, and I never have any doubt as to what is going on in her case.”

Seeking Executive Director to Continue Our Success

CASA of Northeast Arkansas, officially known as CASA of the 2nd Judicial District of Arkansas, is the second largest CASA organization in the state and one of 950 organizations in the country. A recent finalist for the Arkansas Nonprofit Alliance “High Impact Non-Profit of the Year” award, the organization serves five counties in northeast Arkansas, with the goal to serve 100% all children in foster care by 2020. With 325 children served during the fiscal year ending June 30, 2016, the new Strategic Plan calls for CASA to provide funds and talent to serve all the children in foster care by 2020 (approximately 800 in 2015). This is a unique opportunity for a visionary leader to continue the organization’s award-winning growth and take it to the next level of excellence.

Priorities of the position include:

  • Diversifying the donor base, increasing individual and corporate donations, and developing and implementing a marketing plan to encourage endowments to benefit CASA through the Arkansas Community Foundation
  • Strengthening organizational infrastructure and capacity
  • Continuing to improve the organization’s impact by serving more children, improving children’s educational achievement, and advocating creatively in court for the children.
  • Maintaining/improving grant funding

The position will be open until filled. See more info:CASA Seeks Executive Director

Light of Hope Greene County 2016

From L to R: Amanda Frankenberger, Tiffany Henson, Ryan Vaughan, Jeremy Irvin, Ms. Arkansas International Lauren Waldon, Rusty McMillan, Donna Lamb-Bowyer

From L to R: Amanda Frankenberger, Tiffany Henson, Ryan Vaughan, Jeremy Irvin, Ms. Arkansas International Lauren Waldon, Rusty McMillan, Donna Lamb-Bowyer

The Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program of the 2nd Judicial District adopted a lighthouse theme to help share the message of safety and hope for children in foster care at a lunche
on held yesterday. The compelling keynote speaker for the event was Jeremy Irvin, a CASA Volunteer Coordinator with a background story that surprised guests and explained the depth of his mission for children. Irvin shared his past drug arrests, jail time experiences and lessons learned, and how he now works as a mentor for young men and a court advocate for kids in foster care.

“It’s not easy to stand up and talk about a past that I am not proud of,” said Irvin. “But, if I am able to speak about how I used that experience to make life choices that now put me in a helping position of trust and hope for children that are at risk, I will do so.”

Ryan Vaughan, KAIT8 weatherman and CASA Volunteer, served as emcee for the event which also included an appearance by Lauren Waldon, Ms. Arkansas International. Waldon is a former child from foster care who had a CASA Volunteer and now helps provide support for the organization through educational speeches and appearances. Northeast Arkansas business and community leaders were invited to attend the event by table captains whose goal was to educate philanthropic-minded friends who wished to learn more about CASA’s work and what services CASA brings to the area courts and to the children that have been taken into foster care due to abuse or neglect.

“The real and personal stories shared at the Light of Hope event touched and inspired us all,” said CASA Executive Director Donna Lamb-Bowyer.

Irvin, Vaughan and other CASA volunteers across the nation operate as investigators for the judges hearing the custody cases. They visit with all involved, investigate court ordered activities, and share information through court reports and live testimony. CASA volunteers also meet with the children in foster care at least twice a month to check on their wellbeing for the judge. They listen to and discuss current issues and interests of the children and share items that may need attention.

Barbara Hopkins of Mississippi County named Volunteer of the Month

The Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program of the 2nd Judicial District, now the second largest in Arkansas, has named Barbara Hopkins, from Mississippi County, as July’s CASA Volunteer of the Month. CASA of the 2nd serves children that have been taken into foster care due to abuse or neglect within the Northeast Arkansas counties of Clay, Craighead, Greene, Mississippi, and Poinsett. Hopkins completed her CASA training in April of last year and has already hosted four cases through the court system.

Barbara Hopkins

“Barbara enthusiastically dove into her CASA work,” said CASA Executive Director Donna Lamb-Bowyer. “She is always willing to accept increasing responsibility and works creatively and professionally on behalf of her CASA kids.”

As a CASA volunteer, Hopkins became a sworn officer of the court and was provided with a court order for each of her assigned cases. The orders allow her to talk with everyone involved in the case to ensure that instructions and assignments for the family wanting to get their children back are being completed and followed. These interviews, and surrounding observations by Hopkins, are documented and provided to the court for each hearing and serve as an extra set of eyes and ears for the judge. In addition, Hopkins meets at least twice a month with the children she represents and acknowledges that this is her favorite part of the work. “When they recognize me and remember my name, that is the best part,” says Hopkins, “and when they respond to me as a friend, that is the most fulfilling moment for me.”

Desternie Sullivan is Hopkins’ Volunteer Coordinator and says that everything Hopkins does is beyond expectations. “Most volunteers only take one case at a time,” says Sullivan. “Barbara chooses to serve on multiple cases and gives dedicated attention to each of her children. She is passionate about CASA and the children and goes above and beyond to ensure the best interests of the children are being served! She’s wonderful!”

Hopkins became interested in CASA after hearing a board member with the organization speak about what they actually do, so she had a pretty good idea at training time what she was going to be getting involved in. One thing that did surprise her was the number of children that are in the foster care system. “I was not aware of the number of children that are in care and also how issues repeat within the same families,” she said. “That situation really hurts my heart.”

CASA of the 2nd is currently looking for more volunteers like Hopkins and invites anyone interested in getting more information to contact them at 870-935-1099 or visit

 

“Rocky” Fights for Kids in Foster Care

‘ROCKY’ FIGHTS FOR KIDS IN FOSTER CARE
AND IS CASA VOLUNTEER OF THE MONTH

Paragould, Arkansas – June 15, 2016 – Greene County’s Court Appointed Special Advocate

Rocky Lindsey with his children

Rocky Lindsey with his children

(CASA) program has selected Rocky Lindsey as the CASA Volunteer of the Month for June. CASA volunteers work with children that have been taken into foster care due to abuse or neglect. They help serve as the eyes and ears for the judge, and a voice for the child in the courtroom. Lindsey has been a CASA volunteer for more than a year and admits he wasn’t fully aware of the range of the CASA program when he signed on.

“My wife and I went through the training together and weren’t really sure what CASA volunteers did,” he said. “But, the class sessions served to fuel my interest as I learned more about the work that came with the position. My wife chooses to work with younger kids and I am working right now with a 19 year-old that has chosen to take advantage of the ‘fostering futures’ program available here in Arkansas.”

Lindsey says he and the young man talked at length about selecting to stay within the system to obtain the benefits of the program. Upon turning 18 many kids in foster care are frustrated and some are angry and choose to immediately leave the oversight of a judge and case workers. The fostering futures program asks the young person to select to stay in the system and network. In turn, they are assisted in all manner of life choices from finding employment, receiving financial support, and an opportunity to continue on in college or in a work education program. Lindsey says making the selection to continue in the court and foster program was not an easy one for his teenage boy. He spent many hours visiting and talking to get him to make the choice to give the continuation program a chance.

“The main reason Rocky is so good at this work and was able to get this outcome,” says his CASA Volunteer Coordinator Amanda Frankenberger, “is that he is always calm and incredibly patient. He keeps an even keel that helps the older kids stay focused and not threatened by the discussions. It is a wonderful ability, especially when our kids are sometimes so quick to make choices. He demonstrates thoughtfulness and then asks his kids to take the same type of behavior to think things through.”

Lindsey says he is so proud of the boy he is working with for making such great decisions. He says the young man is now working 48 hours a week at a job with a viable future. “My teenager has such potential,” says Lindsey. “There is so much there to work with and he is taking the time to see how things work out as well as developing and exploring new interests – a potentially great future!”

 

Jeremy Irvin July 2016

COURT APPOINTED SPECIAL ADVOCATE (CASA) PROGRAM ADDS IRVIN TO RECRUIT VOLUNTEERS

Jeremy Irvin July 2016

Northeast, AR – July 13, 2016 – The Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program of the 2nd Judicial District, now the second largest in Arkansas, has brought Jeremy Irvin on board to assist with recruiting volunteers for the growing non-profit agency. Irvin will be responsible for the recruiting, training, and coaching of volunteers in the district’s rural counties.

“For a young man, Jeremy brings a lifetime of unique and useful background that he has already demonstrated in his position as a CASA Volunteer with a family of preteens,” said Amanda Frankenberger, CASA Volunteer Coordinator and Irvin’s new supervisor. “His own experiences add insight and a reality that our volunteers and our families and children can relate to and believe in.”

Irvin attended Black River Technical College and has held positions with local area agriculture, technology, and service companies. He will continue a youth program he developed with Greene County Tech in conjunction with Crossfit Cathal as the leader and mentor of the Motivated Futures Program. The program uses fitness and fun to teach core principals of ethics, integrity and positivity. Irvin’s wife Tonya has also joined the local CASA organization as a volunteer.

CASA Expands, Hiring Megan Brown as Program Manager

CASA of the 2nd Judicial District of Arkansas announces that Megan Brown of Jonesboro has been hired as the first ever Program Manager for the organization. Funded in part by a grant from the Arkansas CASA Association, Megan will be responsible for the implementation of the program to advocate for abused and neglected children in foster care through the talents of volunteer advocates.

Megan Brown

Megan Brown

 

“NEA CASA is very pleased to welcome Megan, whose experience as a mental health case manager and training specialist in the hospitality industry brings a variety of talents to CASA. These skills will strengthen this organization and help better prepare the staff and volunteers to advocate for the children’s best interests,” said Donna Lamb Bowyer, Executive Director. “Megan’s dedication to children’s emotional and physical health needs is a significant benefit to the children of northeast Arkansas.”

Megan holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Social Work and is a Licensed Social Worker with more than five years of experience in the non-profit field. She is on the worship team at Central Baptist Church Refuge Campus and is active in fighting human trafficking. She and her husband Ralo, son Jude reside in Jonesboro and are expecting baby girl Ruby very soon.