Even though the weather had turned cold, like last year, that didn't deter members of the community from turning out in to support the organization in its quest to help children from the local area.
Again, the organization held its fundraiser in Downtown Kennett at the Opera House and was an evening consisting of music, dinner, and a "CHAIR-table" auction. Also included was a wine bar and a social hour before the dinner.
The event began with the opening of doors at 5:30 p.m., at the Opera House downtown, giving those in attendance time to browse 16 chairs/seats which were donated by individuals and businesses in the local community.
After viewing the chairs, supporters of CASA were then able to bid on the chair of their choice at the auction later in the evening, which according to an estimate from Mary Lynn Jones-Wright, program director for CASA, netted the organization the sum of $2,700. Auctioning for the event was Danny Williams Auctions. Assisting was Nick Weatherwax and Jason Rhew. Before the auction began Williams asked for a moment of silence to offer a prayer for the children that CASA serves as well as our troops in Afghanistan, those still serving and those that have come home.
Chair donors this year included Joni Robbins Boone, Peggy Cannon, Danielle Chidester, Debbie Crafton, Butch and Toni Evans, Roseanne French, Misty Hankins, Becky Harris, Anne Moyer, Paragould Cinema 8, Lee Poindexter, Nick Weatherwax, Ruth Wilkerson, Pam Jackson, and Ron and Lee Ann Forbus.
Inside the Opera House tables were set up with black tablecloths adorned with red napkins. In the center of each table was a candle arrangement. A buffet table was set up and consisted of pork loin, grilled chicken in cream basil sauce, twice baked potatoes, green beans, rolls, favorite poppy seed salad, chocolate mousse cake, mandarin orange cake, coffee, tea, and water. The meal this year was catered by Karon Campbell of Tasteful Creations in Qulin, Mo.
Before the meal, attendees were treated to the music of Meagan Droke of Senath, daughter of Sean and LaDonna Droke who sang several popular songs from well-known singing artists.
After Droke finished her singing, Tommy Campbell, chief juvenile officer of Dunklin County, talked about CASA and its mission. During his talk, he introduced the CASA Board members which includes Dorothy Adams, Ron Forbus, Susan Hamrick, Nick Weatherwax, Lindsay Crafton, Leslie Lynn, and distinguished guests, Judge H.R. Pryor, Mary Lynn jones-wright, program director for CASA, and Senator Rob Mayer and his wife Nancy. Rev. Trevor Dancer of the First United Methodist Church gave the opening prayer. Also recognized Monday night was Judge H. Mark Preyer, finalist for Missouri CASA Judge of the Year, Mary Lynn jones-wright, finalist for Missouri CASA Program Director of the Year, and Anne Moyer, who won Missouri CASA Volunteer of the Year.
Lee Ann Latting, Susan Hamrick, and Leslie Lynn were also recognized for the registration of guests.
Also, being shown was a featured slideshow explaining the purpose of CASA and how it helps abused and neglected children. At last year's event, CASA was able to raise between $3,000 to $3,500 and all proceeds went to the organization so it could fulfill its mission of helping abused and neglected children.
While CASA programs in Missouri do receive some support from state funding, more support is always needed to maintain and expand local programs, according to the Missouri CASA Association.
The mission of the CASA program is to improve the lives of abused and neglected children in Dunklin County. When a volunteer has been court ordered to work with a family or child, he or she is chosen based on their ability to most effectively meet the specific needs of the child.
The history behind the CASA movement on a national level goes back to 1977, when a Seattle Superior Court Judge named David Soukup was concerned about trying to make decisions on behalf of abused and neglected children without enough information.
According to the National CASA Association, Soukup conceived the idea of appointing community volunteers to speak up for the best interests of these children in court. He made a request for volunteers; 50 citizens responded, and the CASA movement was born.
Today, the CASA family of volunteers has grown to a network of more than 50,000 volunteers that serve abused and neglected children through 900+ local program offices nationwide. Volunteers have helped more than two million children find safe, permanent homes. The Dunklin County chapter of CASA presently have 19 volunteers.