In 1985, a group of citizens and local judges founded CASA of Travis County. Their mission centered around helping kids and youth in the community navigate the courts, foster system and adoption process after experiencing abuse or neglect at home. CASA helped 1,634 children in 2014 with the aid of their Court Appointed Special Advocates who are sworn to protect these young people and get them into a better life.
CASAblanca celebrated the 30 years during which the community, volunteers and staff have worked to
help children who have been abused or neglected. The gala brought together all those who strive for their mission to give a CASA to every child who needs one. Approximately 700 kids still needed a special advocate last year to work with them in court and represent their needs. The annual gala raised more than $300,000 during the program through the live auction and Fund-a-Need with the help of Gayle Stallings from FUNauctions.
While its paramount to protect the identity of the young people who work with the group, CASA was able to share the spirit of some of their stories. Volunteer Everett Carmody told the story of Alex (whose name was changed due to privacy concerns) a child who was taken from his home and, through the help of his CASA, adopted into his new family where he now thrives. The happy ending for this child, and many others, occurred in large part because of the work Everett put in to helping him. As Executive Director Laura Wolf explained, the CASA serves as an “ally to the child.” Therefore, the CASA focuses on what is best for the child, including, in this case, watching him with the new adopted family to determine if it’s a good fit.
The stories of CASAs making a difference go a long way back and one woman was able to tell her own story about her volunteer
Camie Flowers. Pilar Hobbs was not only taken away from her original home but also had to be later removed from her adopted parent’s house after suffering further physical and sexual abuse. Through her CASA, she was able to find her own way and attended the gala with her husband Derrick and daughter Marcella. The support she received from gala attendees filled the room as her video was followed by thunderous applause.
Any gala would not be complete without food, drink and items ready to be auctioned off during the live, silent and big board events. The night began with a Powerful Voice Society Reception which allowed participants the first chance at the Champagne & Diamonds tickets as well as specialty cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. At the end of the program, one lucky winner who had purchased a Champagne & Diamonds ticket received the $4000 diamond. Those who donated during the Fund-a-Need had a chance to join the Powerful Voice Society by giving at the $1500 level.
Following the reception, guests entered and began bidding on silent auction items leading up to dinner and
the program. The big board auction began at the beginning of the night and allowed bids to be placed before the live auction portion. After the program and live auction finished, Gayle Stallings returned to finish the big board auction at the price left off before the program, giving those around the board the chance to bid again live auction style. The live auction itself brought in a substantial portion of the night’s gifts as did the Fund-a-Need which allows everyone to give a tax deductible gift at the predetermined levels. When the gala came to a close, all were able to see that they had given back to a worthy cause who will continue their work to help fight for children in the community.