BY MELANIE BUCK –
CASA of the Ouachitas will hold their 3rd Annual CASA Kentucky Derby Fundraiser this Saturday, May 2. The event provides much needed funding for CASA to assist abused and neglected children in Polk, Montgomery, and Sevier counties.
As CASA Director Cynthia Martin explained, the Department of Children and Family Services is overburdened. The three counties that the local CASA assists struggle to find enough foster homes to place children in that have been removed from their homes and their parents. In many cases, she explained, these children are sent to other foster homes or group homes all across the state, sometimes as far as Jonesboro and Fayetteville. And, their volunteers travel to wherever the children are, to provide a constant presence in the children’s lives.
“We don’t care where the children are, we will go visit them. Whatever the child’s needs are, we have the resources and we will advocate on their behalf to insure that they don’t fall through the cracks of the foster system,” said Martin.
CASA is a 501c3, meaning that all donations made to the organization are tax-deductible. All CASA volunteers are true volunteers and receive no compensation for their time. Cynthia said that their entire program is funded through state and federal grants and their fundraisers.
“Federal budget cuts are threatening our ability to ensure that abused and neglected children have a caring volunteer standing by their side, speaking up for their best interests and giving them hope for the future. Our approach works. When we can reach a child in need, his or her life changes, for the better. But for every foster child with a CASA volunteer, two others go it alone,” said Martin.
CASA of the Ouachitas served 90 children in 2014 with 22 active volunteers in all three counties in their region; partly with the almost $8,000 raised at last year’s Derby fundraiser. This year’s Derby fundraiser will be held on the patio at Stache’s Cookery, Hwy. 71 N, in Mena, this Saturday (May 2) from 4 p.m. – 7 p.m. Tickets are $25 per person and include a meal, a signature Derby drink, entertainment by local band Brothers & Sons, and the opportunity to watch the Kentucky Derby on the big screen. Tickets can be purchased at CASA, on DeQueen Street, or at Arvest and Union Banks.