Story and photos provided by CASA for Kids
On February 2, you can walk the red carpet for a cause. CASA for Kids in Payne and Logan Co. is bringing a night of movie magic to Stillwater.
The 19th annual fundraising event will transform the Payne County Expo Center into a “Hollywood After Party.” Guests are encouraged to embrace the theme and come dressed as their favorite movie characters, rock stars or pop culture icons. The evening begins at 6 p.m. with a fantastic dance party, silent and live auctions, a delicious buffet, and open bar.
Karrie Woods, past-president of the Payne and Logan Co. Board of directors, has attended the CASA gala for the last four years. She is once again serving on the fundraising committee, a group who spends months planning the details of this memorable night.
“It’s the BEST party in town,” Woods said. “Great food, drinks, dancing, fabulous auction items, and it’s all for a cause that transforms children’s lives.”
Tickets are $75 each. If you plan to bring your entourage, a Friends Table is $600 and includes admission for eight and two song requests. Corporate tables and sponsorships are also available. Visit casaforkids.com or call 405-624-2242 to join this must-attend event.
“It’s so fun watching people get competitive about a certain item up for action,” Woods said. “I also love people watching because most people dress up in a costume and some of them are over the top!”
As a nonprofit organization, CASA for Kids depends heavily on private funding. This event raises approximately 20 percent of the annual operating budget for CASA in Payne and Logan Counties. The financial support of gala-goers has a direct impact on our local community. Every dollar raised stays in Payne and Logan Counties to aid in the recruitment and support of a growing volunteer base.
Guests at the event will hear first-hand from some of the current volunteers. Woods said the stories from CASA volunteers about how serving the children has changed their lives is a highlight of the night.
CASA recruits, screens, trains and supports volunteers who advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children in juvenile deprived court cases. CASA stands for Court-Appointed Special Advocate. They are the eyes and ears of the Court, serving as independent and objective representatives of the child’s best interest. Last year local volunteers served on 95 cases, giving a voice to 177 children.
A case can take a year or longer to reach closure. That is the primary reason a CASA is so impactful. They provide a source of consistency in a very chaotic and scary time in a child’s life. Last year, 44 cases in our area reached closure with 28 children being reunified, 13 adopted, three placed with permanent guardians, and two aging out.
The Board and staff are thrilled with the impact volunteers are making, but there is still much more to be done. “We call it the ‘sad drawer,’” Woods said, referring to the file of cases awaiting a CASA assignment. “My goal is for that ‘sad drawer’ to be empty.”
The CASA Board has established aggressive strategic goals to grow the program and expand the impact they can have on the community. The key focus is building the volunteer base to 100 by 2020. The gala plays a key role in that goal. In fact, attendees may leave with more than just fun memories, they may finish the night inspired to do more. Last year, the event introduced more than 300 people to CASA, raised nearly $100,000 and inspired 10 guests to begin their training to become CASA volunteers.
“It was a privilege to serve as President last year,” Woods said. “I think each of those I serve with are incredible. We really do have generous, hardworking, smart, creative people.”
The Board works continuously to encourage people to “Say ‘yes’ to CASA.” From social media shares to donations of time and funds, there are many ways to show support.
To learn more, donate or get involved, find CASA online at casaforkids.com or on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Donations of any size are accepted throughout the year and can be made through the website. New volunteer training cohorts begin five times each year; if you are interested in serving as a CASA or learning more about it, you can attend an upcoming lunch and learn event or visit with staff in the Stillwater or Guthrie office. If you are interested in lending your time and talents to support the amazing volunteers serving the families of our community, the application period for new Board members is in June of each year, and committees accept new members at any time.