EDWARDS — Last week, Cordillera Valley Club in Edwards hosted the eighth annual golf tournament for CASA of the Continental Divide. Golfers from Summit and Eagle counties teed up to raise funds for a charity that does just one thing: helps hurting kids.
CASA may not be an organization you’re very familiar with. CASA isn’t a house (except in Spanish). It’s an acronym for Court Appointed Special Advocate, which may not mean much to you, either.
A CASA is an amazing human who stands up for abused and neglected children. They poke and prod and pry into a child’s life to peel the layers away and, to the best of their ability, make recommendations to a judge about what is in that child’s best interest, with the final outcome hopefully being a permanent and safe home. They don’t care about being popular, or if the mother or father likes them. They stand up to bullies, question teachers, assist overworked social workers, give lawyers the lowdown and spend a whole lot of time taking a little person with no voice under their wing and caring about their future. And they do it all for no pay.
I know this personally because I spent two years as a CASA in Colorado Springs.
CASA is an active, unsung nonprofit in Summit, Clear Creek, Lake and Eagle counties. That’s a big area for slightly over 50 volunteers. In 2013, CASA of the Continental Divide had 52 cases and served 91 children. Many more children need a strong, compassionate man or woman to be their voice in court.
Steve McKeever, current president of CASA’ s board, has a personal attachment to the organization. His wife, Laura, is also an active volunteer as an advocate.
“I grew up in an orphanage in Fort Worth, the Masonic Home and School, funded by the Masonic Lodge,” McKeever said. “I grew up with nothing, but I had adults who pitched in to help me and the other kids grow up at the home. It’s always been a passion and desire for me to help kids once I had the time and the resources. Now I can.”
“Most people who come to the Colorado mountains think that abuse and neglect don’t exist,” said Kathy Reed, executive director. “When we look at our numbers, it’s pretty even county to county. And we’re always short volunteers.”
Classes begin this September, and Reed says the new format is easily accessible online, though there will be face-to-face time. Background checks and interviews are also essential. Donations are always necessary, but volunteers are the driving force behind CASA. Training takes only about 30 hours, and CASAs spend around 15 hours a month on a case. Eighteen months is the minimum desired commitment to see a case through to conclusion.
If CASA might be a match for you, then please visit their website at www.mtncasa.org or call their offices at 970-513-9390.