This month - The annual Mardi Gras Gala benefit for CASA invites people to laissez les bon temps rouler for a great cause!
by Karen Fineran
CASA’s 4th Annual Mardi Gras Gala will be held on Saturday, January 17, 2015 at the Bay St. Louis Community Center. The reigning King and Queen of the 2015 Annual Mardi Gras Gala are Bay St. Louis residents Mr. Dave Mayley and Ms. Camille Tate.
Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for Children is a nationwide network of community-based programs that recruit, train and support citizen-volunteers to advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children in courtrooms and communities. CASA volunteers, appointed by judges, monitor and visit each of the children until he or she is placed in a safe and loving permanent home.
For many abused children, their CASA volunteers will be the only constant adult presence in their lives. Judges rely upon CASA volunteers to make valuable recommendations about the children’s welfare; the volunteers truly are the voices of the children, and the eyes and ears of the courts.
CASA’s Hancock County Chapter currently is working with nearly 500 children in the foster care system here (more children than in many much more populated cities and counties). Research has shown that children assigned with a CASA volunteer are more likely to be adopted, much less likely to re-enter foster care or spend time in long-term foster care, and less likely to be bounced from home to home. It takes a lot of dedicated work and funding to take on a mission of this gravitas, and private funding is crucial to CASA’s success.
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Scenes from the 2014 Casa Gala
As Hancock CASA’s Executive Director, Cynthia Chauvin, explained, “Hancock County has a particularly large need for CASA’s work. There are more children here in foster care than in New Orleans and Jefferson Parishes combined! Funds raised from the Gala will allow us to continue in this important work. The role of the volunteers, in visiting the children and making recommendations to the judges, is really critical in this county.”
Chauvin added that Hancock CASA has already doubled the amount of volunteers assigned over last year; there are currently 53 volunteers, serving 31% of the children in Hancock County foster care, and putting in more than 2,000 combined hours of service per year.
Hancock CASA is actively working to recruit more volunteers, and get that percentage up, so that more of the needy children of this county can be helped. Chauvin is excited about the upcoming Gala, which “is a great way for everyone and anyone to become involved with CASA without actually becoming a volunteer.” 2015 Queen Camille Tate The January 17 Gala will begin at 7:00 p.m. and run until midnight, at the Bay St. Louis Community Hall on Blaize Street in Bay St. Louis. Admission is $40 per person in advance, and $50 at the door. Your ticket includes admission, dinner, mixers, and entertainment (the event is BYOB). Cocktail attire is suggested.
The festivities will include dinner, a live band, a silent and live auction, and the crowning of the King and Queen. This year’s band is Cuisine from New Orleans, who will provide big horn rock’n’roll music hearkening from the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s. Dinner will be provided by Jimmie Ladner and Friends.
All proceeds from the event will go to providing child advocacy services to the abused and neglected children of Hancock County, including funding for recruiting, training and supporting the volunteers that help these children get through the foster care system and safely to the other side.
Tate says, “It’s a real privilege to be nominated the Queen of this year’s CASA gala. It’s very important that the people of Hancock County get behind CASA and support its efforts, because of the large number of needy children in and out of foster care in this county. . . . And, besides, the Gala is just so much fun!”
So, grab a few friends and come out for the fun – it’s guaranteed to launch you into the Mardi Gras spirit while also supporting the most needy children of Hancock County. Tickets to the gala can be purchased at the CASA office at 412 Highway 90, Suite 3, Bay St. Louis. Event sponsorships are still available and begin at $100.
For more information on the event, or to become a sponsor or volunteer, call 228-344-0419, or email Cynthia@casahancockcounty.org. (One does not have to be a lawyer or social worker to be a volunteer, as training and support are provided by CASA’s professional staff.) For more information, and fun photos from past Mardi Gras Galas, please visit the Gala website.