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“We can’t change what happened to children in the past, but we can do everything to change what happens to them in the future,” said Robin Christian, the executive director of the Clackamas County chapter of CASA — Court Appointed Special Advocates.


On Aug. 29, members of the community can play a huge role in helping change those children’s futures by participating in the program’s biggest fundraiser of the year, a golf tournament.

Oregon City-based CASA of Clackamas County, also known as Child Advocates Inc., has operated a county program for 24 years, recruiting, training and supervising volunteers who are authorized by the court to advocate for children placed in foster care due to abuse or neglect.

Christian described the golf tournament as “a labor of love” for Brad Dunkin, board chair of Child Advocates Inc., and his wife, Gina Chirillo, who has been a CASA for nearly 10 years.

As vice president of nuclear business development at Vigor, Dunkin has ties in both the business and golf communities, and “he thought we could be successful in raising money in a golf tournament format, [appealing] to people who many not be familiar with CASA,” Christian said.

“We want to expand our partnerships with the business community. We’d like businesses to support the work we do,” she said.

The fourth annual golf tournament takes place this year for the first time at the Oregon Golf Club in West Linn, and it is open to anybody, from novice to expert.

It is not about how you play golf, “it’s more about being surrounded by a bunch of people who support CASA. There is a barbecue dinner and a raffle; there is more to the day than golf,” Christian said.

Corporate sponsorships start at $2,000 and go up to $10,000, and part of the fee is tax-deductible. Individuals can register to play for $375, with $200 tax-deductible; foursomes can register for $1,500, with $800 tax-deductible.

Included in the price is a $50 gift certificate to the Adidas and TaylorMade tents. All merchandise will be sold at wholesale prices and 10 percent of all proceeds will be donated to CASA of Clackamas County.

Two drink tickets, a barbecue dinner and raffle also are part of the package, along with the opportunity to connect with other business owners and play world-class golf, said Katherine Gorell, CASA of Clackamas County development director.

People also can attend just the dinner and raffle, for $25.

Dunkin will be the master of ceremonies for the dinner, and Nancy Leedy, a longtime CASA, “will tell a story of hope, based on a family she’s worked with. It’s a great way to understand our work,” Christian said.

Christian and Gorell are passionate about the work that CASA volunteers do in Clackamas County, but they also are clear that they need more support from the community and more funding in order to help children.

“It costs $24,000 per child for a child in foster care for one year. It costs $1,800 a year to recruit, train and support a CASA. When a child has a CASA, they spend less time in foster care and move fewer times,” Christian said.

Having a CASA “changes kids’ lives in a significant way,” she added.

“This shows the impact of CASA. This is a cost-effective way to save taxpayer money and to change children’s lives for the better,” Gorell said.

She also noted that children who have a CASA are more likely to receive medical care and counseling, along with attention, from a caring adult in their lives.

But in order to serve the children who need these services, CASA of Clackamas County needs more volunteers and more paid staff to supervise them, Christian said.

In 2015-16, 115 volunteer advocates served 262 children. Right now there are 98 CASAs serving 159 children, with 80 children on the waiting list.

In order to meet the standards set by the national CASA organization, there needs to be one paid CASA manager for every 30 volunteers, and CASA of Clackamas County has only four paid staff, two of whom are part time, Christian said.

The program has begun using a peer-coaching model, where one “more seasoned” CASA can supervise up to five volunteers. But the managers have their own cases to deal with as well, she said.

“Adding staff is really at the core of what we do. We want every child to have a CASA, and we don’t want to have any children on the waiting list,” Gorell said.

Some people might be wary of becoming CASAs because they’re afraid the children’s stories are too heartbreaking, Christian said.

“We talk a lot about self-care, and the court and administrative systems can frustrate people, but we have a lot of things in place and there are lots of continuing education opportunities for our CASAs,” she said.

Volunteers need to attend a CASA 101 orientation session, held the first Wednesday of every month, and turn in an application. Once they have passed a prescreening interview and background check, they then take part in training sessions.

Volunteers will have 32 hours of training, and then must be committed to spending 15 to 20 hours per month on advocacy.

“We have people who work full time, and they fit it into their schedules. They know far in advance” what their time commitments are, Christian said.

“When kids have a CASA, they can tap into that natural resilience and [they can do better] because they have one consistent adult in their lives advocating for them,” Christian said.

Gorell added, “When they have a CASA, they have a much brighter future.”

Support CASA

The fourth annual Charity Golf Tournament to support Child Advocates Inc., CASA of Clackamas County, begins at 11 a.m. at The Oregon Golf Club, 25700 S.W. Petes Mountain Road, in West Linn. Events after 6 p.m. include a barbecue dinner, raffle and awards presentations.

To register, visit casa-cc.org or call 503-723-0521.

The next CASA 101 training session is from 6 to 7 p.m. Sept. 7 at Child Advocates, Inc., 421 High St., Suite 108, Oregon City. Training sessions repeat Sept. 21 and every first Wednesday of the month thereafter.

Those who are unable to become CASA volunteers can support the program financially in the following ways:

Click the donate button at casa-cc.org. People can make a one-time donation or sign up to donate an amount per month.

Go to fredmeyer.com/communityrewards and link your Fred Meyer Rewards card to support CASA; link to Child Advocates Inc. in the community awards program.

Shop at Smile.Amazon.com and choose Child Advocates Inc. (CASA of Clackamas County) as your charitable organization to earn the program a donation on eligible purchases.

For more information, contact Child Advocates, Inc. (CASA of Clackamas County)

Call: 503-723-0521

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Visit: casa-cc.org

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