‘Rock ’n’ Roll is Here to Stay!’ to be celebrated with CASA-EP fundraiser next Friday
SHEPHERDSTOWN – Sixteen years ago, Val Smith and Joan Ergin founded CASA of the Eastern Panhandle, Inc., never expecting the need for Court Appointed Special Advocates for abused children would be even greater in 2019.
With the rise of the opioid epidemic, the number of children entering the foster care system has only increased, with 400 children in the Eastern Panhandle currently in need of their own advocates to help them navigate their time through the legal process. Because of that need, Smith is once again organizing CASA-EP’s annual dance and auction fundraiser with Kerry Asam.
“We’re doing it to raise money to train volunteer advocates, so we can take on more child abuse cases. Child abuse cases have risen exponentially because of the opioid crisis, which is why I am seeing so many children coming into the court system.,” Smith said, mentioning the organization’s 50 volunteer advocates are currently working with 558 local children in foster care.
According to Smith, the fundraiser’s proceeds will pay for the training of more advocates, who will then be sworn in by a judge and assigned to one to three children’s cases.
“Being an advocate is the most rewarding thing anyone can do, because you’re giving a child the chance to have a better life,” Smith said. “We trained 12 more advocates from last year’s fundraiser, and took on 36 more children.
“A child abuse case can take up to 18 months, which is a long time to be in foster care. All through that time, the advocates meet with the child regularly. We’re probably the only ones who meet with them regularly, because the social workers are overloaded and the parents are either in jail or have limited visitation. We’re really the only ones who are keeping on top of what’s going on in that child’s life. We visit the child regularly, and write a monthly report to the judge on how the child is doing. We also monitor if the parents are doing everything the court mandated them to do, in order to get their child back,” Smith said, mentioning advocates also keep track of the students’ success in school and advise the judge on whether the children should be placed back with their parents, adopted by other family members or put up for adoption.
“Our mission really is to find the child a safe and permanent home, where they can live without fear or danger, and they can live their safely,” Smith said. “Since 2003, I’m proud to say, we’ve found over 1,000 safe homes.”
This year’s fundraiser, “Rock ‘n’ Roll is Here to Stay!” will be held at the Shepherdstown Fire Hall on Oct. 18 at 6 p.m. Attendees are encouraged to dress up for the event in clothing from or inspired by popular fashions from the ’50s and ’60s.
“We want to see everyone in poodle skirts and leather jackets – last year, nearly everyone came in costume. It was amazing,” Smith said. “We have a photographer who takes everyone’s photos.”
Along with dancing, the event will also feature heavy hors d’oeuvres, a live auction and a silent auction, with auction items such as restaurant packages, hotel packages and usage of beach and vacation homes.
The special effects lighting and DJ will once again be voluntarily provided by Ray Croft Entertainment. To get tickets, which cost $70 per person, visit mycasaep.org or www.facebook.com/mycasaep.org, or call 304-263-5100. Tickets will also be available at the door. $50 of the ticket price is tax deductible.