ROME CITY -- It's an annual event supporters are sure not to miss. Complete with food, drinks and silent auction items aplenty, CASA Palooza is consistently well attended and this year's event proved to be another "success."
The event was held April 20th at Sylvan Cellars Event Center in Rome City, and the night closed with more than $52,500 raised for Northeastern Indiana CASA.
"It's an important event since this is our only fundraiser," said Executive Director Kristi Bachman. "Each year there's more awareness and more support for our mission. It's great to see it growing."
Caterers, restaurants, and other eateries came together to provide tasting stations that varied from Asian fusion cuisine to prime rib to bison meatballs. As crowds tasted and sipped their way through the night, silent auction items were on display to tempt the purse strings.
"It's a fun night with something for everyone," said Bachman. "So many great people came together to make this a success. Our staff, board members, and volunteers go above and beyond. Some of our sponsors are loyal supporters and there are some restaurants who come out year after year to be part of this event. It means a lot."
Northeastern Indiana CASA provides court-appointed advocates for children involved in judicial proceedings. Community members from DeKalb, Lagrange, Noble, Steuben and Whitley counties volunteer their time to be an advocate, working with children to be a voice for them and their best interests in the courtroom.
"The message tonight is simple," said Bachman during her remarks at the event. "It’s about home. The place everyone here will go to at the end of this day. The place we know where to go to at the end of the day. One former CASA child said it like this, 'Home means the place where you don’t want to leave.' In Spanish the word CASA means home. Our goal is to help ensure every child has a safe, permanent home. Your support helps us help these kids get there."
Approximately 350 children are already being served by the nonprofit. However, there are 60 additional children waiting for a CASA. Volunteers are needed and can apply online or by contacting the office. A volunteer training is provided twice a year so volunteers can be best equipped for their role.
"Eight-six percent of our caseload is being served," Bachman said. "The good news is this is almost a twenty percent increase from two years ago. Progress is being made. Every year at this event we focus on children our advocates have helped," said Bachman. "This year I wanted to share some of the children’s stories who don't currently have a CASA."
Bachman referred to a few specific situations such as a five-year-old child in foster care because the mother is "unable to stop using drugs" and the father is "unknown." Currently, there is a family of four children who are temporarily living with their grandparents, waiting for an advocate, while their parents are in prison. Bachman also mentioned a baby, born just last week addicted to opiates.
“Our volunteers are a constant for the child in a time of chaos,” said Bachman. “A child may have multiple social workers, attorneys, therapists and foster placements throughout the life of the case but only one CASA volunteer, which can make all the difference for the child’s future. We just can't urge community members enough to become aware of this need and get involved.”
Photos from the event can be found at www.neincasa.net. Visit the website to learn more about volunteer opportunities and to complete an online application.