Springdale, Ark., June 22, 2014 – Since June 2013, more than 500 abused and neglected children in Northwest Arkansas were represented in court by volunteer advocates thanks to CASA of Northwest Arkansas. But as the region continues to grow, demand for CASA’s services has increased, leaving hundreds of other children in need of the support these Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) provide. The non-profit is working to meet the demand and today officially opened its new facility at 3825 Cawood Lane in Springdale in a move that will position it to provide additional services.
Judge Stacy Zimmerman with CASA Advocate Lon Hudson
“More than 1,000 children in our region entered foster care last year due to severe physical abuse, sexual abuse or neglect,” said Crystal Vickmark, executive director, CASA of Northwest Arkansas. “Our goal for the future is to provide an advocate for every hurting child in foster care. This facility represents each of those children and the future of our organization.”
Longtime CASA supporters Mike and Susan Duke are serving as co-chairmen of the campaign.
“CASA of Northwest Arkansas is the voice in our communities for children who have experienced abuse and neglect,” said Susan Duke. “To stand in the gap for these children is a privilege and necessity. A trained CASA volunteer works on behalf of the children’s best interest and advocates for each child’s needs,” she added. “As our communities and population have grown so have the numbers of abused and neglected children. Each child deserves a voice
speaking on their behalf, and as CASA volunteer advocates and supporters, Mike and I encourage the community to join us in supporting this organization.”
The campaign has already seen support from several Northwest Arkansas residents and organizations including Mike and Susan Duke, The Glass Family Foundation, Don and JoAnn Soderquist, Todd and Shelly Simmons, and Tyson Foods. Additional members of the capital campaign committee are Claire Fontenot, James Keenan, Steve and Kim Lane, and Chris Mitchell.
Pictured from left, CASA Older Youth Specialist Mary Osborn, CASA board member Ryan Blue, advocate Tracy Rosser, and CASA Advocate Supervisor Laura Jones
“I’m passionate about working for Tyson Foods and I’m passionate about the work that CASA of Northwest Arkansas does to better the lives of children in need,” said Attorney for Tyson Foods and CASA Board Member Chris Mitchell. “I’m fortunate to be involved in such a unique event that brings these two things together.”
As part of Tyson Foods’ charitable efforts in Northwest Arkansas, the company donated $100,000 to CASA to help with the building purchase and renovations.
“We are grateful to live in a region that cares deeply for its children,” said Vickmark. “CASA of Northwest Arkansas exists because of our volunteers and our donors. For more than 16 years we have served the most vulnerable members of our community by providing them with trained volunteers who make recommendations to juvenile judges in their best interests. We are their voice, their advocate and champion for healing.”
Vickmark shared that while CASA’s plan for growth is ambitious, it is necessary in order to serve those that aren’t currently represented.
Pictured left to right, Brett Biggs, CASA advocate Kara Biggs, Steve Lane, advocate and former CASA board member Kim Lane, Capital Campaign Chairs Susan and Mike Duke.
A child with a CASA spends less time in foster care and is less likely to be shuffled around the system. CASA’s individualized services help meet the physical, emotional, medical, and educational needs of each child, ultimately ensuring that the child finds a safe and permanent home in less time.
For more information about the campaign, contact Julie Lolley, director of development and marketing, at 725-2213.
About CASA of Northwest Arkansas
Founded in 1997, CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) is a 501c3 organization that recruits and trains qualified, caring adults to speak for the best interests of abused and neglected children in court, with the goal of moving each child in foster care to a safe, permanent home.