As we continue our Not So Random Acts of Kindness project, we have found it takes so much support from members of our community to help our local nonprofits make Northern Nevada a better place to live, work and play.
Our idea for supporting nonprofits in the communities we live in came from a charitable gift our client, Casey Neilon, made during the holiday season to CASA of Carson City.
For our next nonprofit, we are shining our spotlight on the work CASA of Carson City does for the youth in our community and all of the volunteers who help enrich these children’s lives.
The mission of CASA of Carson City is to support and promote court-appointed volunteer advocacy so that every abused and neglected child in our community can be safe, establish permanence and have the opportunity to thrive.
It takes a whole community to support our community’s children. Here are the stories of just some of the people who help CASA of Carson City advocate for the children in Carson City.
It takes a cuddly creature.
“These children have so much trauma and we want to do whatever we can to give them warmth and let them know somebody cares about them. Our committee for the Carson City Republican Women helps collect cuddly creatures for the children to have comfort throughout their court hearings.” -Carolee Berglan, Carson City Republican Women
It takes community support.
“Carson City is the most populated city we recruit foster homes in but has the least number of foster homes available. Anytime I need help with something that has to do with foster families, CASA is right there. What I have learned in the past 10 years in this job is if you don’t have community support, you are going to fail. We need other partners to step up and make child welfare a community wide issue.” -Lori Nichols, Foster Care Licensing Supervisor for Department of Health and Family Services
It takes an Easter Basket.
“For Easter, CASA puts together Easter baskets for all the foster children in Carson City. It may seem simple, but for the kids it means a lot. There may be four or five foster children in a home and a basket for each of them help serve an emotion need for each of them. Growing up, neighbors always pitched in to help out the children in our community. Community support is everything. These foster kids need advocates for them in their community.” -Abraham Burciaj, Family Support Worker for Department of Health and Family Services
It takes a village.
“Working with CASA has been instrumental to giving the families we help what they need to be successful. Working in different counties in Nevada you see the differences of what each of these families need. Having the community support we do in Carson makes a difference for everyone involved. The reality is working in child services we are busy and working together really helps meet the needs of these children we care for. It really does take a village.” -Rebeca Stoffel permanency worker, Monica Cypher, Assessments Worker and Andrea Valenzuela, Social Services Manager
It takes empathy.
“About 20 years ago I took a training to become a volunteer for CASA but then ended up serving on the board. Now I support CASA through our mission at First Presbyterian Church in Carson City. I would describe CASA and supportive, loving and empathetic for not only the children but their parents as well. CASA supports children beyond the investigation. Their advocates give these children the voice and support they need.” -Barbara Kowal, First Presbyterian Church
It takes a pair of pajamas.
“Community service is important to 4-H and we were wanting to do something youth-oriented to help our community. We started a pajama drive three years ago because often these kids arrive to foster care without pajamas. These pajamas make the children feel warm and cozy in a scary situation. In 2019 we had 33 pajamas donated and then in 2020 we had 108 pajamas donated. These pajamas really make a difference in these kid’s lives.” -Alicia Hansen, Carson City Storey County 4-H
“Awareness for child welfare is an obstacle. There is a lack of understanding of why kids end up in foster care. We are not only helping kids in foster care but also helping kids on the edge. CASA is there to help prevent them going to the next step.” -Michael Hansen, Carson City Storey County 4-H
It takes an advocate.
“CASA not only benefits children but their parents too. You get to know the whole family and it has been rewarding to see all the progress that has been made. Being there for the boys I advocate for and letting them know there is somebody looking out for them has made a huge difference in their lives. For my boys, I started them in a program with Horses and Humans and loved it. Taking them to the horse was the therapy they needed.” -Cindy Mitz, Advocate
“Getting involved with CASA is a great way to get involved with the community. Some people can give time and others can give money. When we help these children, our entire community benefits.” -Mauri Gilmore, Advocate
It takes a safe place.
“The Chidlren’s Museum of Northern Nevada is all about the child and their well-being. We work with CASA because they make things okay for our community’s children who are in scary situations. They bring security, stability and comfort to these children. At the museum we try to bring that same positive atmosphere for children, we serve as a place of safe exchange in cases of divorced parents who do not get along. Child welfare is a big issue in this region; a lot of children are removed from homes and show up at foster homes with nothing. CASA does amazing stuff that no one is willing to do.” -Christine Brandon, Executive Director of Children’s Museum of Northern Nevada
It takes a community willing to be a family.
“Ron Wood Family Resource Center and CASA work together in so many ways to make a big impact on the lives of foster youth. Our community needs to understand sometimes our youth just want to be heard. Our teenagers are good kids, they just need people to listen and spend time with them. It takes our community to come together to become a family for these youth who have no one else looking out for them.” -Belinda Saavedra, Ron Wood Family Resource Center
It takes you to make a difference in a child’s life.
“Volunteers are what make up our organization. They are pivotal in knowing what these children need. CASA has been blessed with support from our community. We are in desperate need of volunteers for all of the child welfare cases in Carson City so a child can feel supported, secure and strong. Our children need protection. That child you will advocate for needs you more than anything.” -Melanie “Emmy” McCormick, Executive Director for CASA of Carson City.
To become an advocate for children in our community, please email Melanie to have a conversation about your interest in child welfare: melaniemccormickCASA@outlook.com.