Fairfax CASA | June 2018 Newsletter
Table of Contents
Letter from the Executive Director
2018 Run for the Children Recap!
Foster Care Awareness Month
Welcome Summer 2018 CASAs!
Thank You Verizon!
Become a CASA
Inspiration for you
After a bizarre winter and a very wet and rainy spring, it is nice to finally see a glowing orb in the sky that brings with it cookouts, pool time, vacations and late nights sitting on the deck.
Fairfax CASA's staff and volunteers had a very busy spring. Our 2018 Run for the Children was a smashing success. Thank you to all of our volunteers, runners, walkers, teams and sponsors, for helping us raise over $89,000! There were heroes (and some villains) of all ages who crossed the finish line. Read more about the race on page 6.
Last week we swore in the summer 2018 class of volunteers. Chief Judge Thomas Sotelo presided over the ceremony, his fifth swearing in since taking on the role of Chief Judge in July 2016. During this time, he has sworn in 43 citizen volunteers to take on the enormous task we entrust them with, and he has provided each class with deeply touching words of wisdom as they embark in their new role. Judge Sotelo will be stepping down as the Chief Judge on July 1, and Judge Todd Petit will take over. We thank Judge Sotelo for his hard work over the last two years and we look forward to working with Judge Petit as he takes on his new position!
As we close out the fiscal year, I want to say a special thank you to all who have donated to our program--the many funders, families, our CASA volunteers, community partners and corporations. THANK YOU for helping us meet our budget and to ensure that we are able to provide a voice to every child referred by the Court. We will close the fiscal year having served 300 children, and we could not do it without the generosity of the community. Thank you.
CASA Staff with Judge Sotelo
From Left: Paula Salguero McCommons, Darcy Cunningham, Priscilla Jahanian, Shaina Goldberg, Emily Rea, The Honorable Judge Sotelo, Mary Mulvenon, and Ashleigh Conrad
Not pictured: Corrine Cavaliere and MaryAnn Wohlford
Message from the Executive Director
Bradley Holzwart, 37
Our villians and Wonder Woman!
Our amazing CASAs who joined us on race day!
Top Men 8K
Becky Kendall, 51
Sarah Andrekovich, 28
Matt Akers, 43
Finish line celebration
Top Women 8K
Our top 8K finishers!
Charles Simpson, 26
Yuko Whitestone, 46
Spiderman rocks his cape and mask!
This year's race was certainly one for the history books! Over 500 runners, and a tortoise(!) took to the streets in a superhero style takeover for this year's race. Participants enjoyed the course, music, and variety of delicious food and beverages provided by Hard Times Cafe, Coyote Grille, Rita's Italian Ice, Wawa, Great American Cookie, and Sheetz.
Another fantastic run!
David Hollinger, 22
Top Men 3K
Top Women 3K
Joe Clancy, 29
Kathryn Feliciano, 27
Caleb Hymans, 12
Once again, the race was a HUGE financial success for Fairfax CASA. Thanks to all of our sponsors for their generous support for our cause. A list of these amazing individuals and organizations can be found here:
List of Sponsors
Congratulations to all of our participants and a big thank you to all of our volunteers, who were absolutely essential to a successful race! We look forward to seeing you next year for another great race!
Rachel Hickey, 24
Michael Clancy, 60
Stephen Gabris, 38
Jason Christensen, 43
Emily Vogeler, 35
Reid Florence, 17
Sophie King, 13
Aidan Bailey, 12
Top Boys 8K
Top Girls 8K
Logan Florence, 17
Nicholas Lee, 17
Julia Coan, 17
Anastasia Carvalhais, 17
Eliana Sherenco, 12
Deandre Hansberry, 17
Top Girls 3K
Kamara Nduta, 6
Sophia Roberts, 13
William Roberts, 15
Top Boys 3K
Race Recap Video
Special Thanks to...
Our two top fundraising teams this year:
The Social Walkers who raised $30,205 and
BFFS for CASA who raised $5,300!
Your dedication and commitment to Fairfax CASA knows no bounds and on behalf of the children we serve, thank you for being superheroes for abused and neglected children.
WITH SUPPORT FROM THE FOLLOWING SPONSORS
Rod and Karen Gancas
Fairfax CASA thanks our 2018 presenting sponsor:
entered foster care due to neglect
As last month saw us celebrating Foster Care Awareness, we're taking a moment to reflect on the children across the United States and here at home in Virginia who are currently placed in the foster care system. Here is some of the most current data we have reflecting national and state averages for these children that we at CASA serve.*
National Foster Care Month
waiting to be adopted
children in foster care
the average number of months a child spends in care
are teens at the risk of aging out
*National Data provided by the 2016 AFCARS Report
entered foster care due to neglect
children in care under the age of 3
are teens who now have access to Fostering Futures
children in foster care
Our CASAs work tirelessly everyday to ensure the children they serve find love, safety, and stability.
As you see these statistics, remember: There are no unwanted children, just unfound families.
Together we can act. Together we can advocate. And together we can work for a brighter future for each child in the foster care system.
waiting to be adopted
*State Data provided by the April 2018 Foster Care Snapshot by the Virginia Department of Social Services
For this issue of our newsletter, Fairfax CASA is highlighting Jaie Brown. She has been a CASA for over 10 years. Unfortunately for us, she is moving to southern Virginia. Over her ten years of service, Jaie has been an advocate to 13 children over 7 cases. In her supervisor, Priscilla Jahanian's, words, Jaie "has a steady presence and objectivity on her cases. She has the ability to balance empathy and understanding for the families with the best interests of the children she has served. In addition to her service to the families and children on her cases, Jaie has been a loving and fun presence around the CASA office." Jaie will be greatly missed by all of us at CASA and we wish her the best in her new adventures! Jaie plans to continue her work as a CASA, serving abused and neglected children who need an advocate in the Newport News area.
Interview by Ashleigh Conrad
Ashleigh - Tell us about yourself before you entered the world of CASA.
Jaie - Before becoming a Fairfax County CASA I spent my professional life in marketing and advertising. After two failed attempts at completing my college education, and having absolutely no idea what I wanted to do, except dance, I finally began working as a receptionist at a small New York advertising agency. I really liked the agency's creative atmosphere and decided that I wanted to become an account executive. Fast-forward about nine years and I was an account executive at a large national agency in Atlanta, GA. working on the Atlanta Region McDonald’s account. Then one year later I am hired by McDonald’s as their Atlanta Region Marketing Supervisor, then promoted and relocated to Virginia as the Norfolk Region Marketing Manager, all this upward mobility without a degree. How I became a program director in eight high schools for an afterschool mentoring program for a Norfolk based non-profit, ACCESS College Foundation, is divine providence, because it was there that I found my true passion, advocating for children. So I went back to college part-time, at the ripe age of 46, and received both my undergrad and graduate degrees in social work, with a certification in school social work. In between I was blessed to get married to my husband of 41 years, Reverend Doctor Clarence Brown, raise two wonderful sons, Jordan, 36 and Collin 35. And we are blessed with three beautiful, intelligent, talented grandchildren, Elijah, eleven; Zoe, nine; and Israel, five.
A - How did you find your way to CASA?
J - I became aware of CASA through an unfortunate family situation. My sister and brother-in-law adopted a little girl when she was nine years old and, unfortunately ended up voluntarily terminating their parental rights when she became fourteen years old. Towards the end of the court proceedings, our niece’s “third” social worker mentioned that it might have been beneficial for her case to be assigned a CASA. I inquired what a CASA was, and what they did, and her social worker shared the website. I was amazed to learn how ordinary, concerned people, like me, are taught to advocate for children in the system, and possibly positively impact their outcomes. I knew immediately that I wanted to be a part of this outstanding organization. I originally initiated becoming a CASA in Virginia Beach, but realized that my graduate school studies were too intense for me to begin volunteering. So when we relocated from Virginia Beach to Annandale one of the first things I did was look into becoming a Fairfax County CASA.
A - How do you pass the time when you're not doing casework?
J - When I am not doing CASA casework, I try to keep busy and can be found volunteering for other organizations in our community. I have been an INOVA Fairfax Hospital Ronald McDonald House weekly volunteer for nearly ten years. I have volunteered as a trained Fairfax County Department of Family Services Parenting Education class facilitator for six years, and a trained Body Safety (Good Touch/Bad Touch) elementary school facilitator for two years. Through Annandale UMC I am involved in an afterschool initiative that feeds participating students an evening meal before going home, and I work part-time for Fairfax County Public Schools teaching Family Literacy at Braddock Elementary School two nights a week. I also sing with my church's band every Sunday morning during our 8:30 service.
Volunteer Spotlight: Jaie Brown
A - What's a memorable moment for you in your CASA work so far?
J - Oh my, there have been so many, but I think the memory that haunts me the most happened during my first case, which involved a Middle Eastern father of four little ones, under the age of six, attempting to get sole custody of the children. After watching this young man truly bond with and be responsible for every aspect of his children’s lives, be totally compliant with court orders, and seemingly embrace the system and the process, I was elated when he received sole custody of those beautiful children; only to watch him, two months later, take these little ones back to his home country, and leave them with his family, who they did not know, for them to raise. I was devastated and totally confused. I could not understand how, or why, he would abandon his children after working so hard to ensure their safety. It was my volunteer supervisor at the time that was able to help me understand his reasoning. She explained that in his country men/fathers do not share any of the day-to-day care of children. As fathers, their main responsibility is to provide for their families. It is solely the mother’s duty to rear the children. He knew that his children were in danger, so he did what was necessary to get them out of harm’s way. But he also did what he felt was best by taking them to his native country, to be raised by his mother and sisters. Although I understood the explanation, and admired his efforts on behalf of his children, I still found it difficult to imagine him leaving them, and returning to the states to go on with his life without them. I am sure he fulfills his financial obligation, because I believe he was an honorable man, but I pray that he kept in close contact with them. They truly seemed to adore their father.
A - We've heard you plan on continuing your CASA work with the Newport News program after you move from the Northern Virginia area. What keeps you going as a volunteer?
J - What keeps me going as a CASA volunteer is my commitment to the advocacy of all children, and especially this population of children. I believe that the work we do as CASA’s is necessary, and meaningful. We do indeed “speak for the children”, we are a positive constant presence in lives that need, in many cases, some semblance of stability, and we care about their future. To put it simply I believe in the quote by 40-year education veteran, Rita Pierson, who says “every child deserves a champion; an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection and insists that they become the best they can possibly be”. This is why I will always continue to volunteer as a CASA.
Jaie, pictured right at her swearing in with Judge Janine Saxe and former Executive Director, Lynda Williams.
A - What is a piece of advice you would give to a new CASA volunteer?
J - My advice to new CASA volunteers would be to strive to be as objective as possible, and remember that no matter the circumstance, our commitment, and what we do is always about our CASA children, and their welfare. I would also advise them that regardless of their case outcomes, try not to be discouraged or doubt that you somehow failed your CASA child in someway. I remember during our training being told that there will be times when the outcome may not look the way we might want them to, but as long as our children are safe and secure, and receiving consistent basic needs, we have accomplished our goal. Continue to always believe in the process.
Welcome Summer 2018 CASAs!
Each class is unique and we, as a staff, are left with certain impressions after training, and we try to give each class a nickname. The Summer Class of 2018 had a single and resounding word come to mind: Lionhearted. Bold, Courageous, Strong. Every single unique individual in this newest class of CASAs has shown themselves to be fierce advocates already and we cannot wait to see how they positively impact the lives of the children they will serve. Welcome to CASA!
Summer 2018 CASAs with Judge Sotelo
From Left: Beth Lord, Lauren Gardner, Jackie Sterling, Glen Corso, The Honorable Judge Sotelo, Kathy Blackburn, Brenda Cross, Kurt Doehnert, and Bob Keegan
We are so excited to share the story of CASA Cathryn Krebs and the youth she has served for over 4 years, Julia*. Julia recently turned 21, with Cathryn remaining on her case even after she turned 18 and "aged out" of the system prior to having Fostering Futures as an option. Cathryn helped Julia navigate through tough times with her foster mother, encouraged her to remain in therapy, and assisted her with job readiness. Though she stayed on the case unofficially after Julia's 18th birthday, Cathryn is the poster CASA for what it looks like advocating for an older youth. Here's her and Julia's story in her own words.
Ashleigh - Tell us about working Julia’s case when you first started. Was she receptive to you being her advocate as an older youth entering the system?
Cathryn - I started working with Julia in October 2014. She was 17 at the time and my first “older youth” assignment. When I first started working with her, it was hard because she was not talking to her mother and had decided she would not have a relationship with her unless she separated from her husband, Julia's stepfather, the man that physically abused her. When Julia learned that her mother chose to stay with her husband, she decided to not have any contact with her, her sister or her grandfather. An elderly great-aunt and aunt in NY were her only family; Julia had lived with these aunts most of her life. There was some depression regarding this tough choice and things with her first foster family were OK, but not great. I think she was receptive to me from the beginning because she was lonely and afraid. She blossomed in her second foster home, where there was a better fit.
A - What was the biggest challenge you feel she has overcome with the support of advocacy?
C - The biggest challenge in high school was her difficulty with math skills. She could not pass her Algebra I Standard of Learning test and when I worked with her informally (she worked with plenty of tutors and teachers at school too), I discovered she did not know her basic math facts. Because the county requires students take Algebra II, it was extremely difficult for her, and she did not pass. Somehow, her alternative school found a way for her to graduate in June 2017 with a standard diploma. It was such a happy day to attend her graduation, as she was the first in her family to graduate from high school. By the way, she was very proud! I presented her with a book of pictures I had taken of her from our times together. The biggest challenge now is supporting her with encouragement about her job training. She has worked two summers through the EYE program and was very pleased wearing a work badge. She now works part-time in a gift store and is in the process of enrolling in a training program, probably for medical assistants. Her long-term goal is to be a registered nurse.
A - What positive impacts do you feel you have made on Julia as a CASA?
C - I think just being there for her and listening has been the most valuable impact. She always texts or calls me when she has an accomplishment or a question. She knows she can always count on me and that I am a stable person in her life who cares about her. After she turned 21, she had lunch with me and my husband, Fred. He did not know her name before the lunch, of course, but I had spent many hours with her so he was curious. His comment was, “ She really trusts you and values your opinion.” That meant the world to me!
Interview by Ashleigh Conrad | *Name has been changed to protect confidentiality
Thank you to
for their community corporate foundation grant gift to Fairfax CASA! We are so very grateful to Doug Brammer, Manager of External Affairs, and the Foundation's continued trust and
support in our program. All of us at CASA truly value our partnership in striving for
excellence in our community and serving the most vulnerable citizens of all:
the abused and neglected children in need of an advocate.
Mark your calendars for these dates and times for our upcoming information sessions. These sessions are step one to becoming a CASA and give valuable insight into the roles and responsibilities of our dedicated advocate volunteers.
Right now, we have a special need for bilingual CASAs to help us ensure that every Spanish speaking child under the Court's protection has an advocate who can help. ¿Conoces a alguien que me pueda ayudar? ¡Comparte esta informacion!
7.14.18 from 12:30-1:30 PM
Martha Washington Library
6614 Fort Hunt Rd.
Alexandria, VA, 22307
8.15.18 from 7:00-8:00 PM
Fairfax CASA office
4103 Chain Bridge Rd. Suite 200
Fairfax, VA 22030
Click here to RSVP to a session!
Wondering what it takes to be a CASA?
We've got the answers.
Inspired by Jaie Brown's quote in our Volunteer Spotlight, we wanted to share the full TED Talk of Rita Pierson's inspirational speech.
Rita Pierson - "Every child needs a champion"