- by Ana Balka and Lisa Monti
Casa Superhero Run
Main Street and Beach Boulevard BSL
7am check-in and registration
5k at 8am, 1-mile fun run at 9
$25 for 5k registration, $10 for kids’ run, see here
Looks like it’s going to be a beautiful day the for the 5K Run/walk at 8 and the 1-mile fun run for 12 and under at 9 to benefit CASA Hancock County, sponsored by the Hancock Chamber.
And for this race, the need for superheroes for abused and neglected kids is underlined with participants (and attendees, hey! Who’s stopping you?) wearing their brightest and boldest superhero costumes. So all you Wonder Women and Supermen, step into your phone booths and come out ready to fly.
“It’s a very fun family event,” said Cynthia Chauvin, executive director of CASA of Hancock County. “We get lots of families, and there’s a play area for kids centered around activities and learning.”
The event kicks off National Child Abuse Prevention Month and that’s where the theme comes from. “All kids need a hero but abused and neglected kids need a superhero,” she said.
Organizers believe the race will be bigger this year. “Last year was the first year and we had right under 300 participants. We’re expecting to get that many if not more.”
Those who want to get race items early can pick up the bib, shirt, and goody bag for the 5k on Friday, March 31 from 4:30–6:30 at CASA’s office at 412 Highway 90, Suite 3 in BSL.
This year, one preregistered participant in the run gets one night’s complimentary stay at the Bay Town Inn Bed & Breakfast in Old Town Bay St. Louis. Also, Cuz & Christy of Cuz’s Oyster Bar and Grill are giving a free beer to any racer over 21 who brings in their race bib on April 1!
The goal is awareness and fundraising to support CASA. “The money goes to helping us recruit, train and support the volunteers who serve,” Chauvin said.
In CASA, Court Appointed Special Advocate volunteers provide abused and neglected children in our community quality advocacy in the court system and secure them safe, permanent, nurturing homes.
It’s a great time to think about enrolling to be a CASA volunteer. According to this 2016 Hancock County Youth Court Task Force report, as of December 2015 there were more Hancock County children in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Human Services than “in any one county, per capita, in the State of Mississippi.”
The volunteers take 30 hours of training but may need ongoing professional support to handle cases. “Our volunteers are lay people, and most have no experience as social workers or lawyers or anything in the child welfare system,” says Chauvin.
CASA volunteers gather information, document findings, appear in court, seek solutions between the people and organizations in children’s lives, recommend services, monitor plans and court orders, and keep the court informed of each child’s situation.
According to CASA’s national standards, for every 30 volunteers, there must be one paid member to support them. Local volunteers come from varied professions such as engineering and real estate, and the staff provides guidance.
“It’s very hard to maneuver through the system because of confidentiality and the levels of bureaucracy. It’s very specialized.”
CASA works in tandem with the Hancock County Youth Court, guardians ad litem, the Mississippi Department of Human Services, Division of Family and Children’s Services (MDHS, DFCS), community mental health providers, other community agencies, and law enforcement to protect abused and neglected children in Hancock County.
CASA workers “assist the youth courts in assessing the needs of children who are in the court system.” According to the national CASA website, volunteers undergo a background check and a 30-hour pre-service training course, and agree to stay with their case until completion, which can take an average of a year and a half.
For more on whether CASA volunteering is a good fit for you and for CASA, see their website or contact the office at 228-344-0419. And get out there Saturday in your superhero gear!