There were a total of 27 members in attendance at last Thursday’s meeting, along with our speakers, Norma Mendoza and Pat Cahill. President Ken Dufour opened the meeting, which was held in the Card Room of the Bahia Corinthian. Wally Ziglar offered the invocation: that we should be grateful for our freedoms and specifically the absence of human bondage and female abuse which seems so prevalent in other parts of the world; and that we should be praying for basic human rights globally. Past President Mike Gertner followed with the flag salute.
President-Elect and Chief Raffle Ticket Salesperson Shirley Lashmett announced that the South Orange County Exchange Club will be having its annual Thanksgiving Prayer Breakfast on Wednesday, November 16, at the Meridian Senior Living Clubhouse in Laguna Hills; three speakers: a Catholic priest, a Protestant minister, and a Jewish rabbi, are scheduled to participate. If you are interested, please check your emails for a handout, and/or contact Shirley for additional information.....Ken mentioned that Jeff Yeargain, after having recent surgery, is in slow recovery..... Marj Davis reported that
Marj Collins, who recently suffered a relapse of cancer, is currently in hospice, and that we should keep her in our prayers; Cynthia Strasmann will be sending a card and flowers on behalf of the membership. Ken asked the member- ship to give her a phone call.....Football Commissioner Mike Gertner announced the winners of Week #9 Football Pool: there were 18 players, with 20 favorites and 8 underdogs being correct answers. The booby prize, having the lowest score of 7, was Fran Murphy ($3); there were 2 players: Mike Call and Ken DuFour who had 13 correct, and Ken DuFour won first prize ($24) with the best tiebreaker number.
Diane Daruty introduced our speakers for the day, both representing Orange County CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children). Norma Mendoza has the official title of Diversity Improvement Coordinator. She has been with CASA for three years; and is very heavily involved with their recruitment program. Pat Cahill is a 26-year volunteer with CASA, and they shared the stage. Norma stated that there are over 3,450 children under the jurisdiction of the Dependency Court in Orange County, which hears and adjudicates cases involving abused, neglected and/or abandoned children. Of these, about 2,400 are presently in foster homes, group homes, or emergency shelters. CASA is a national organization of about 950 chapters, and the OC Chapter was founded in 1977. The need exists for such an entity which represents and advocates for the children who are placed in foster care.
Currently the system is overburdened, and the current foster care system focuses on the entire family, not only on the child. Volunteers with CASA are trained to meet with the child individually and become mentors and role models, bonding and getting involved with their day-to-day activities. Many of these children in the OC, who range in age from toddlers to 21 years (even though they are emancipated as legal adults at the age of 18), have never been to the beach or attended amusement parks. Without CASA, only 58% of these youth are likely to graduate from high school, and by the age of 24, 50% of youth in dependency programs will be unemployed and have income issues over the child’s lifetime; 20% of them will become homeless within one year of emancipation. CASA tailors its advocacy program through education, mental health issues, family connections, and intervention support. Consequently, children with CASA volunteers in the OC
have experienced high school graduation rates of 92%, are not moved around or transferred as often between social workers, schools, and foster families, and develop higher levels of social relationships and academic success. Just like the Dependency Court is over-burdened, the CASA program is understaffed and is in need of more volunteer advocates. There are over 100 cases on the CASA waiting list in the OC.
What we can do? We can volunteer to become a CASA. They are especially in need of father figures (i.e. “big brothers”) who can guide these unfortunate children along the right paths (10-15 hours a month). Another way is to refer friends, etc. via direct contact, social media, etc. to learn and get involved. A third way is to donate: CASA is a 501(c) 3 organization which will accept donations to further their cause.
It isn’t easy to develop and nurture the interrelationships necessary for successful outcomes between CASA volunteers and the dependency child to whom they are assigned. Volunteers need to develop a consistency and persistence to create a presence in the lives of these children. Pat Cahill has had about 26 years of experience as a CASA volunteer, and related several stories, all fully indicative of the need to have a one-on-one, long-term relationship with the child, and to tailor the CASA program to what works for the individual. Her relationship with those with whom she has interacted have spanned years, are frequently very complicated, and often have been accompanied by very little interaction with other members of the family.
Our own Joe Brown indicated that he had been a volunteer with CASA in the past, and that he couldn’t think of a more satisfying or rewarding experience. The training period for a CASA volunteer consists of about 35 hours; subjects covered during training include boundaries, dependency court report writing, making recommendations to the court, etc. The time commitment is about 10-15 hours a month, including training, court report writing, and interacting with social workers and other professionals. For more information, or to become a volunteer, please visit their website at casaoc.org.
RAFFLE – Roy Shlemon and Ed Romeo won the raffle for the week. Each took home $25.
Nov 10 - Patricia Wenskunas - Crime Survivors
Nov 17 - Business Meeting
Nov 24 - Happy Thanksgiving!
Dec 1 - Kate Malouf—Teen Project
This week’s meeting will be held at the Bahia Corinthian. Lunch will be served at 12:20 p.m. You will be emailed an invitation two days before the meeting. Please notify Richard Swinney by this Wednesday at 2 pm if you are planning on attending.