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.