By Stacy Engebretson. CREATED Oct 30, 2013
Green Bay, WI -- Hundreds of abused and neglected children in our area are finding protection thanks to local volunteers. They're giving their time to act as a voice for at risk youth in the court system.
As they file into a Brown County courtroom, a sense of duty sinks in. In front of a crowd of family and friends, they raise their right hands to take an important oath.
"For the best interests of the children," the group said.
After 40 hours of intense training over five-weeks, Dominique Gbadebo and nearly twenty others are ready to make a difference.
"It was a lot of hard work and very rewarding," said Gbadebo. "I've always been a volunteer all my life. My mother has instilled that in us since I was a small child, so this is just fulfilling her prophecy."
Volunteers with CASA, which stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates of Brown County, provide one-on-one support for abused and neglected children. They become their voice in the court system.
"They meet with the child every week and once a month, they write a report that goes back to the judge to give the judge a better understanding of what kind of decisions they should make with that child's case," explained CASA Executive Director Connie Greenawald.
They're decisions that will help the children find a safe and permanent home. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 95% of children with a CASA advocate stay out of long term foster care. 90% do not re-enter the child welfare system. They're real results that inspire community members to make the one year commitment to change the life of a hurting child.
CASA volunteer Larry Rose says, "I think over the years, I've looked at how blessed we've been. I had wonderful parents, great grandparents involved in my life and not all of our kids have that opportunity, so it really was a chance to try and do something where we give back and share some of the great blessings that we've received."
CASA served 268 children in Brown County last year and the numbers are rising. It's just another reason why the new volunteers are ready to meet their match.
"If I can help just one person, I consider that the most rewarding thing in the world," said Gbadebo.
CASA is already recruiting for its spring training session which begins in March.
Click here to learn more about becoming a CASA volunteer.