On November 18th, 770 guests came together for the Light of Hope breakfast in Rogers and 280 for the luncheon in Springdale to hear about the mission of CASA of Northwest Arkansas. “Light of Hope” is a national movement to light a symbol of hope for abused and neglected children who are under the jurisdiction of the nation’s family court systems. CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) is a non-profit which promotes and supports quality volunteer representation with the goal of providing each child a safe, permanent and nurturing home.
Net proceeds for both the breakfast and the lunch were tallied at over $240,000. These funds will support the recruitment and training of community volunteers to serve children of abuse and neglect in Northwest Arkansas. There also was an outpouring of interest from attendees to train and become advocates for these children. The goal of CASA of Northwest Arkansas is to provide an advocate for every child in the foster care system. This past year there were more than 900 children who came into foster care and CASA served on cases for 527 of them.
Emcee for the morning was Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, EVP and Treasurer, Walmart. Babineaux-Fontenot opened the morning by thanking the many sponsors of the event and introducing Honorary Chair Rosalind Brewer, CEO Sam’s Club, who’s remarks cited the important work CASA is doing in Northwest Arkansas.
Mike and Susan Duke took the stage to present the “Duke Outstanding Service Award” to Claire Babineaux- Fontenot in recognition of her life-long support of foster children, her service to National CASA as a board member, and her commitment to the CASA mission.
The outstanding keynote speaker for the breakfast was Jack Sinclair, EVP, Walmart US Grocery Division. “Sadly, there are too many abused and neglected children in our community. CASA of Northwest Arkansas makes a difference in the lives of those children,” Sinclair said. “I encourage all of you to support CASA in their outstanding work. We should stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves.”
The luncheon keynote speaker, Dennis Leatherby, CFO of Tyson Foods, gave a heart-felt message, “Our children are our future– they’re everything, and when they are in need, we should step up and be their voice. CASA is an organization that speaks on behalf of children time and time again. I couldn’t be more proud to support CASA’s incredible efforts to help abused and neglected children in Northwest Arkansas.”
The inspirational speaker for both the breakfast and the lunch was Elizabeth Lyon, a young mother who told of her personal journey of drug abuse, losing custody of her small children, and how her faith and her children’s CASA, Jan Halgrim, helped turn her life around and regain custody of her daughters.
Julie Lolley, CASA Director of Development & Marketing