After volunteering for more than two years, Ahwatukee Foothills resident Victoria Strayer wanted to take her involvement with an important cause to the next level.
Strayer volunteered with Maricopa County CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), which deals directly with Child Protective Services, for two-and-a-half years and realized the organization wasn't getting the support and awareness it deserved and needed.
So she decided to take matters into her own hands.
Strayer started an ancillary organization, Voices for CASA Children, to fix those needs. Law does not allow state-funded CASA to accept monetary donations, and that is where Voices will come in.
Officially incorporated in September, Voices will provide a much needed hand to CASA, which oversees the more than 7,000 children in state care.
One of the biggest issues is that there are only a few hundred volunteers helping out with a little more than 200 of those children.
"We've had a tough year in the CPS system," Strayer said. "It's going to take more than the current set of players to take it to a better state."
With the money raised by the team at voices they will be able to fund outreach programs for CASA, allow for more training or whatever else is necessary to improve the organization.
"We can give specific examples to national donors of where their money is going and what they will be funding," she said. "They would come to us for funding for training, to recruit additional volunteers, or retention programs. It's tough work and volunteers should be applauded."
She saw how important a job volunteering can be and how much more help is needed.
"You go through case selection process and you read heartbreaking cases," she said. "There are stacks of cases. You know when you are walking away with one out of the stack, and because there is just a limited number of volunteers right now, those cases are not going to get a CASA."
Strayer, Voices and members of CASA participated in National Adoption Day on Nov. 19, when 316 adoptions for Maricopa County were finalized, making it the largest event in the nation for three years in a row.
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