Just a hop: Second Annual Sock Hop fun raises funds for CASA
SHEPHERDSTOWN — Supporters of CASA of the Eastern Panhandle, rocked around the clock on Friday evening as they raised funds to support the organization that provides Court Appointed Special Advocates to find safe and permanent homes for foster children in Berkeley, Jefferson and Morgan counties.
The second annual dance and auction was organized to help reach a fundraising goal of $15,000, according to committee chair Kerry Asam.
“With ticket sales, sponsorships and donations, I’m pretty sure we’ve reached that already,” Asam said early in the evening, before a Chinese raffle, wine auction, silent auction and other fundraising elements took off. “It all goes directly to train more advocates.”
Joan Ergin, one of the founding members of CASA-EP, said she and co-founder Val Smith had read about children suffering abuse and neglect in the foster care system and decided to contact the national CASA organization seeking assistance in beginning a local branch.
“It was in 2003. Val and I were the only two advocates. Now there are 58 serving 158 children in the three counties,” Ergin said. “We raise money to recruit, train and support advocates. Every child needs an advocate.”
Advocates are volunteers appointed by judges to watch over abused and neglected children, to make sure they don’t get lost in the legal and social service system or remain in inappropriate group or foster homes.
“There are only four social workers,” Ergin said. “They can’t investigate even half the cases.”
CASA fills a gap in the system, with trained volunteers who monitor a child’s situation until the child is placed in a safe and permanent home. For many abused children, their CASA volunteer is the one constant adult present in their lives.
“We have helped find over 1,000 homes since 2003,” Ergin said. “It’s very rewarding, because we are here to make things better.”
Asam, who now serves on the CASA board of directors, said organizing the Sock Hop took a lot of planning.
“It’s a good way to celebrate,” she said, “a good way to support.”
The idea for the Sock Hop developed after last year’s debut fundraiser took on the disco theme.
“At our wrap up last year, the ladies on the committee suggested a ’60s sock hop,” Asam said. “It was a labor of love for many months.”
Tammy Miller, who attended the event with friends Ann Smith, Nancy Chapman and Pati LaBrosse, said she was there to support the mission of CASA.
“Children need someone to stand up and support them in times of trouble,” Miller said.
In addition to funds, Ergin said CASA-EP is always in need of additional volunteers.
To be an advocate, one must complete an eight-week training and be sworn in by a judge, Ergin explained. The advocate then, in addition to attending all court meetings, spends time visiting the child or children and spending quality time with them. An advocate serves one child, or one family at a time, meaning if there are siblings, the advocate works with all of them.
“We save a child at a time,” Ergin said.
To learn more, visit www.mycasaep.org.