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.