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CASA of Philadelphia
June 2017 News
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PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS

FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTORS DESK

June 1, 2017

Happi Photo

You may have heard; CASA of Philadelphia was excited to celebrate our first 10 years of service to children and youth in Philadelphia! And celebrate we did!  We threw ourselves a 10th Birthday Party and invited all of our friends and supporters. On May 10th at the Pyramid Club, up in the sky on the 52nd floor overlooking the city, we gathered.  Board members, staff, volunteers new and old, sponsors, friends and family members all came together to support our mission, to learn more about what we do and to find out what can be done to support CASA in the next decade. It was a chance to reflect on how far we have come and to look ahead to what we hope to achieve. We heard from our “Champion for Children,” Councilwoman Helen Gym, whose call to action to advocate, on all levels, for the children of Philadelphia to get what they need to achieve their full potential inspired us. Words from CASA Volunteer Jessica Chan reminded us of what it is to be there for a child through thick and thin. Hailey Burdick shared what it was like to have a CASA volunteer by her side through years of foster care placements, until she found her way back home. We recognized Dionne Graves as Outstanding CASA Volunteer for her ability to gain the trust of two adolescents, when their ability to trust adults was severely impacted by parental abandonment. Once that trust was established, she was able to engage them in making positive decisions for their future and to be the strong advocate they need on their journey towards adulthood.


CASA of Philadelphia plans to grow to provide more CASA/ EDM volunteers to more children each year. The need is great and we will continue to rise to the challenge. With every dollar of support we are able invest that directly into recruiting, training and supporting volunteers like Jessica and Dionne to do amazing work for children and youth in foster care. We hope you continue to follow our progress and support us in our mission in the months and years ahead. Our next group of CASA/EDM volunteers will begin training in July. We will be back with the CASA Speaker Series in September, so stayed tuned for details.  And, our 5th Annual Superhero 5k Run/Walk will take place on October 29th, so get your running shoes ready and tell your friends!

Thanks for being there for CASA of Philadelphia!

We are so grateful to have friends and supporters like you!


Best,
Happi

VOLUNTEER PROFILE: ASHLEY BRYANT

By CASA Supervisor Grace Ciak-Linton

Ashley Bryant photo

When I met Ashley during CASA’s January 2017 Pre-Service Training there were a two noticeable things about her. She was very professional in her demeanor and speech, and had a very eclectic style of dressing. I have learned it is not uncommon to see Ashley with brightly colored shirts, a gold lion necklace, chunky high top sneakers with a metal emblem on the toe, and a bag with just as much flare. Her style often becomes a point of conversation, which has helped her relate to a number of people in various situations. Ashley recently recounted how someone asked her about her bag and sneakers after a stressful meeting as a CASA Volunteer. She saw this as an opportunity to break some of the tension that built during the meeting.


Ashley accepted a case that requires her to work with the entire biological family. There are seven children and two biological parents. Two of the children are currently court involved with CASA appointed and only one is in placement. The family has long struggled with intellectual disabilities, financial hardship, and difficulties navigating the system. They are close knit and love each other very much, something that Ashley has identified quickly. In the short time that Ashley has been with the case she has unearthed a plethora of long-standing and unaddressed concerns, from IEPs not being completed to housing barriers. Ashley has strongly advocated, to everyone with a listening ear, for the children and the family. She maintains regular communication with everyone involved on the case to ensure that movement is occurring for the numerous referrals the family needs. One huge accomplishment was helping the child in placement end up in an appropriate placement, after a couple of failed placements. It took months, but I am proud to say the new appropriate placement was finally made at the end of May! A big thanks to Ashley for her role in that!


I am continually impressed with Ashley’s persistence, communication skills (with the children, parents, CUA, and everyone else involved.) Ashley draws on her years of experience as a teacher of 7th-12th graders in the Bronx section of New York City. Though there are similarities between teaching and volunteering with CASA, and also between New York City and Philadelphia, there are many differences that Ashley is figuring out in her new role and new city. “[Being a CASA Volunteer] has expanded and challenged me to learn things from a new perspective and new way,” says Ashley of her experience as a CASA volunteer thus far.


Ashley’s life is dedicated to helping and serving others. Though she is not formally teaching at this time, she is a program coordinator for a teen/young adult program through the Philadelphia Free Library, and she also volunteers at Mighty Writers. I’m not sure how she does it all! There are weeks that we speak every day regarding her CASA case, and it feels like she is a CASA volunteer full time. Thank you to Ashley and to all of the CASA volunteers who dedicate time in their busy schedules to advocate for some of the most vulnerable in our city.

CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR SPRING 2017 PRE-SERVICE TRAINING CLASS!

Congratulations to everyone who completed our Spring 2017 CASA pre-service training!  We are looking forward to our annual volunteer swearing-in ceremony on June 14th.   Judges Margaret Murphy and Walter Olszewski will preside over the ceremony as new volunteers take their CASA oath for the first time and our long-term volunteers join us in celebration for an oath renewal.

 

Spring 2017 Graduates:

Molly Candon

Pearl Choe

Arlene Elfman

Kate Field

Jennifer Gleason

Alexis Lightner

Crys Mangliano

Amanda McKnight

Ana Molina

Leslie O'Rourke

Jenn Rezeli

Becky Smith

Katherine Smith
Hadley Stein

HIGHLIGHTS IN ADVOCACY

By EDM Program Coordinator Andrea Jelin

Volunteer Michelle Whelan’s kindness and compassion are evidenced every day in the handling of her Educational Decision Maker (EDM) cases.  Michelle works with our severely handicapped children. They are non-verbal, autistic, suffer from cerebral palsy, GI issues and many serious ailments while residing in residential facilities.

Michelle champions the need for appropriate equipment and services for her students. For example, one of her children was sitting in a wheelchair that did not fit him properly. She valiantly worked to ensure that the student’s wheelchair and tray were properly fitted. In another case, a student required the services of a nurse at his school. Michelle worked to ensure that he received this service every day. In addition, Michelle makes it a point to visit her students on a regular basis.

Michelle is truly a special individual and we are very fortunate to have her as an EDM.

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SAVE THE DATE

OCTOBER 29, 2017:  5TH ANNUAL CASA SUPERHERO RUN/WALK

5K

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Save the date for our 5th Annual event:  Sunday, October 29, 2017.  

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VOLUNTEER

SUMMER 2017 CASA PRE-SERVICE TRAINING: JOIN US

Are you interested in becoming a CASA and/or EDM volunteer?  We would love to hear from you.  Our Summer 2017 CASA Pre-service Training takes place July 17-20 and July 24-27, from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm each day.  Take a look at our website to apply online at:

 

http://casaphiladelphia.org/volunteer-application

Reach out directly to Volunteer Coordinator Cindy Blum with any questions at: cindy.blum@casaphiladelphia.org

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The mission of Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Philadelphia is to deliver personalized, integrated, child-centered advocacy for abused and neglected children in foster care through a diverse community of trained volunteers.




Upcoming Events:


July 17-20 &
July 24-27, 2017

Summer 2017 CASA Pre-service Training


October 29, 2017
5th Annual CASA Superhero 5K




For more information about any of our events, please  contact Volunteer Coordinator Cindy Blum.

cindy.blum@
casaphiladelphia.org

or

267-519-5325




CASA of Philadelphia

Board of Directors




Maura McInerney, Esq.
 Education Law Center
Board President




Maureen Smith Lawrence, Esq.
Hangley, Aronchick, Segal, Pudlin & Schiller

Board

Vice President





Danielle Petaja, Esq.

Saul Ewing, LLP

Board Secretary





Joseph Nuccio, CPA

TD Bank
Board Treasurer






Christina B. Bales, MD
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia






Tom Bonner

PECO






Christina Copeland
Conservest Capital Advisors, Inc.






Camille Fundora, Esq.
Berger & Montague, P.C.






Philip Hawkins

Kurchner-Hawkins Associates





Robert S. Hawkins, Esq.

Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney, PC






Eileen Horgan, Esq.

Women Against Abuse






Shamyune Jones,   Esq.

   Pennsylvania Convention Center





Denis J. Lawler, Esq.

Archer & Greiner, P.C.





Caroline Rosch
Reinvestment Fund




Lynanne M. Schaeffer

Gaudenzia, Inc.


 




  Alan Sharavsky

    Sharavsky      

 Communications

 




Judith Silver, PhD

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia







CASA STAFF




Happi Grillon, MSW
Executive Director



Cynthia Mason, Esq.
Program Director



Trish Kinkle, MSW
Program Manager



Carole Cornelius, MSW
Senior CASA Supervisor



Carletta Chandler, BSW
CASA Supervisor



Grace Ciak-Linton, MSW
CASA Supervisor



Terrill Carney, MA
EDM Supervisor



Andrea Jelin, MS
EDM Program Coordinator



Cindy Blum, EdM
Volunteer Coordinator










CASA of Philadelphia
Friends Center
1501 Cherry Street
Philadelphia, PA  19102



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