CASA for Kids to host a Pig Roast and BBQ

MORGANTOWN — A little bit of pork is on the menu. Good music will be showcased.

And, raising awareness of and some money for a good cause is a plus.

Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for Kids is hosting a Pig Roast and BBQ to not only raise money, but to bring awareness of the organization to the community.

CASA for Kids is a nonprofit organization that advocates for children who are removed from their homes because of abuse or neglect in both Monongalia and Preston counties.

“CASA’s really designed to be the voice for the child. We really work to make sure that children are placed in a safe and permanent home as quickly as possible,” said Kayla Benson, executive director of CASA for Kids.

CASA volunteers, more importantly, are court-appointed special advocates, and are community members who volunteer many hours to represent the best interest of the child. Benson said many times the CASA volunteer is the only consistent adult in the lives of these children. They work with children who are removed from their homes and their everyday life is changed with little to no notice.

Because of the epidemic of opioids in the state, the number of children needing help from an entity like a CASA continues to grow. Last year alone, Benson said they served over 130 children, but there are many other children who still need to be served out there.

“They’re entering this world where everything’s different. While everything’s changing for these children, their CASA advocate is kind of their consistent adult in their life,” she said.

Additionally, these volunteers review records, and obtain information that’s relevant in each case. They talk to the people important in the child’s life before they present a recommendation to what they believe is in the best interest of the child, like where the child might be placed.

Benson said to host the roast CASA is partnering with the Elk Lodge 411, who is very supportive of CASA.

“When we were brainstorming we thought this would be a fun idea and something new to start for the community,” she said.

CASA also does a Salute to Veterans that includes live music and a dinner. She said the organization really wants to recognize and appreciate veterans in the community, but also raise awareness of CASA.

Part of what the organization is trying to do is grow. Right now Benson said there are about 35 CASA volunteers, which means there are 35 cases they can be on, offering one-on-one time with each child.

“That’s a great number and we’ve almost doubled that number in 2017 alone, so we’re growing rapidly. But, there are hundreds of children that need that CASA volunteer,” she said.

She said with additional fundraising, CASA has the potential to help more children by being able to train more volunteers and ultimately make a different in more children’s lives.

CASA stays funded through grants, fundraising and individual donation. It is also a funded partner through the United Way in Mon and Preston Counties.

“Ultimately it’s community support. Without the backing of people in Mon and Preston counties, we wouldn’t be able to continue to grow and do what we do,” she said.

There are different CASAs throughout the state, but CASA is not in every county.

“The more people hear about the program, the more CASA volunteers we can recruit and hopefully we can evolved from there because that means more children served,” she said.

Being a new event, Benson didn’t put a number on what they expect to raise at the pig roast, but hosting a fun event that people can come to and learn a little bit about CASA is the ultimate goal.

The True Country Band and the Brother’s Short Band will be playing the pig roast. There will also be raffles throughout the evening and a silent auction.

“Of course with that you bring some funding in,” she said. “I think it’s awareness, helping people learn about the CASA program and knowing that we exist in our community. Just really providing a fun event where everyone can enjoy it and hopefully it’s something we can continue to host throughout the years and something that could grow.”

Funds help pay for things like a volunteer coordinator who recruits, trains and supports CASA volunteers.

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