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Tony_papa_sunglassesWhen I hear “CASA”, I think of the African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child”. CASA is a vital conduit for members of our community (village) to step into the life of a neglected child and make a significant difference. A few years ago, we started to explain that our advocate volunteers change the trajectory of a Foster child’s life. Seeing members of our village embrace children unknown to them is awe inspiring. Through the volunteers’ commitment of time, patience and love, they are making the world a better place one child at a time. 
Having served on the CASA board since 2009, I have a very long list of memories. These include tearful court observations and heart-wrenching advocate reports. The memories are profound because they remind me of the heinous environments so many children endure and the CASA volunteers who have stepped in to help. It is all too easy to remain unaware. While I wish that our societal problems would cease to exist and all children would be raised by loving and nurturing biological parents, my focus within CASA is to ensure that every member of our community remains aware and is given an opportunity to help.
As I reflect back on 2015, one of my most cherished memories was witnessing a group of people from various parts of our county volunteering to serve on our new Children’s Activity Committee. At various community talks, we explained that volunteer advocates need help finding formative activities for the time they spend with their assigned children. At each talk, people who couldn’t serve as advocates stood up and volunteered to help. Today, our advocate volunteers have north and south county teams of local volunteers who identify and organize fabulous educational activities. Witnessing community members volunteer to support other community volunteers who are stepping into an abused and neglected child’s life is a memory of goodness and generosity I will have for the rest of my life. It makes me proud to be a member of our community.
Tony Papa
President, Board of Directors