Guest Blog: Richland County CASA

Remember a few weeks back, January 13th to be precise, I posted about Richland County CASA“This is how RCCASA does it!”? Well, I’m excited to host their guest post:

Since our training presentation for the South Carolina Bar Foundation in 2008, RCCASA has continued its aggressive efforts in male recruitment. This presentation was the first of many.

RCCASA was nationally recognized for its success in the implementation of a “best practice” recruitment model and trained CASA programs across the United States that included Washington, Texas, Hawaii, Washington, D.C., Florida and this year RCCASA will be presenting at the National CASA conference in 2010.

We held our own National Conference in Columbia, SC and individuals from Ohio, Florida, Colorado, and Texas visited our sunny state to learn how to recruit male volunteers Although our program has celebrated successes, we find that it is an on-going effort and we continue to be faced with challenges.

As we serve more children, more male volunteers are needed.

Our program felt the impact of the economic crisis. Funding was an issue but more importantly our volunteers were greatly impacted. Many volunteers were faced with relocation and others were faced with decreasing the amount of time they could spend volunteering. Our most committed, dedicated volunteers were taking on second jobs, reentering the workforce, and volunteers who were once retired were now employed.

Beginning July 1, 2010, RCCASA will need to be able to serve 100% of the children.

We are rising to the challenge and will be increasing our recruitment efforts. We are proud of the job our volunteers have done and know that our ability to serve 100% of the children will mean these children will have a strong advocate.

So in a nutshell what does this really mean……It means that more than ever we NEED YOUR assistance in making this happen.  You may not be able to volunteer but you may have a spouse, co-worker, brother, friend, or colleague. Out biggest recruitment tool has been through word of mouth and when you tell someone about CASA, you are making a difference in the lives of the abused and neglected children in our community.

Guest Blog: Cindy Coker – Keeping the Promise

Keeping the Promise

Cindy Coker

When I was a kid, we learned and recited in class the Pledge of Allegiance.  The final words,..with liberty and justice for all…carried a powerful message.  And for an 8 year old, justice meant playing fair in games and not picking on kids – or being picked on.

Several years later (and no, we won’t discuss how many!) I was saying similar words again when I took the new lawyers oath.  I will assist the defenseless or oppressed by ensuring that justice is available to all citizens… Wow, what a promise to make!

Recently the Legal Services Corporation released its updated report on the justice gap in America.  For every client that a legal services program is able to help, at least on is turned away.  I’m not sure who picks up the slack in other states, but in South Carolina, it’s the volunteers of the Pro Bono Program.  Since 1986 S.C. lawyers have given hundreds of thousands of hours in pro bono service.  Those hours have involved hand holding clients, appearing in court, helping a woman get out of an abusive relationship, ensuring visitation for a father with his children, helping a family keep their home or doing what could be done to make the inevitable less painful.

The Pro Bono Program also provides opportunities for lawyers to help educate the public through legal clinics, Law School for Non-Lawyers and Ask-A-Lawyer phone banks.

Unfortunately, the need exceeds the supply.  Liberty and justice for all, while the ideal, is not the reality.  But, we have a chance to make a difference.  We have a chance to keep the promise and close that gap.  We just need a little more help!  Can we count on you?

Pro Bono….Keeping the promise!