For more than 40 years, CASA of St. Louis has provided support for abused and neglected children in the St. Louis region. Today, they need more volunteers to reflect the children they serve.
CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) of St. Louis is a nonprofit organization that recruits, screens, and trains community volunteers to advocate for children who have experienced abuse or neglect. The volunteers are a voice for these children and youth at a vulnerable point in their lives – providing valuable support and guidance as their case works its way through the court system.
“I believe that youth should have a safe, healthy, and happy childhood and have always enjoyed doing for others and have a special place in my heart for children,”Shanterra Thomas – CASA of St. Louis Volunteer
The vision of the organization is to foster a community where the most vulnerable children have the tools to develop the resilience necessary to survive and thrive in and beyond foster care.
Currently, there are nearly 400 children receiving CASA services in St. Louis – and 70 percent identify as African American. Thus began a commitment for the organization’s volunteer base to reflect the children they serve.
In September 2022, CASA of St. Louis named Schalene Houston-Butler to the newly created position of Volunteer Recruitment and Outreach Manager. In this role, she is responsible for planning, implementing and evaluating outreach and volunteer recruitment strategies and building and maintaining community relationships and partnerships to increase awareness of CASA’s work in advocating for foster children.http://Www.Stlcasa.org
“People want to see change happening in the community, but don’t necessarily take the action to make a difference,” said Houston-Butler. “This is an opportunity to see change happen, becoming advocates for children to return to a safe, stable environment where they can reach their full potential and contribute back to society.”
CASA of St. Louis is seeking community members to dedicate their time to volunteering for children and youth and advocating on their behalf until permanency is reached.
“Our staff and volunteers serve children from birth through age 20, pairing them with advocates who stand by them, even as their foster home, school, case workers, court representatives, and other factors may change,” said Houston-Butler. “Children thrive in familiar spaces. We need volunteers who are reliable and dependable. The goal is for the child to be reunified with their family; reaching permanency in a safe and stable environment, whether through reunification, guardianship, or adoption, is always the overall goal.”
CASA of St. Louis currently has 200 active volunteers, with a goal to have an advocate for every child who needs one.
Shanterra Thomas, an avid CASA volunteer, joined the organization to combine her passion for youth and justice with an opportunity for service.
“I believe that youth should have a safe, healthy, and happy childhood and have always enjoyed doing for others and have a special place in my heart for children,” said Thomas. “I volunteer a small amount of my time to have a big impact on the lives of youth. CASA volunteers and supervisors are spokespeople for children in foster care giving them a voice in court. We champion on behalf of the best interest of the children. And, I am proud of the difference that CASA makes in the lives of the impacted families.”
Thomas recently highlighted a key moment where she personally felt the impact of her work as a volunteer.
“My efforts materialized when my assigned children were reunited with their biological parent after years in care,” said Thomas. “We empowered the family with the coping skills they would need to succeed in the future. I am overjoyed about the outcome.”
Through dedicated advocacy from each of its volunteers, CASA of St. Louis provides each child with a stable reliable adult – someone to count on – throughout their time in foster care. The organization is always seeking to collaborate with others whether it is through volunteerism efforts or donations.
For ways to get involved, visit CASA of St. Louis (stlcasa.org).
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