FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- You can have all you can eat crab and make an impact on children at the same time.
Court Appointed Special Advocates or CASA of Fresno and Madera Counties is hosting its annual Crab Feed. Executive Director Wilma Tom Hashimoto and Crab Feed Chairperson Jennifer McDougal joined Valley Focus host Liz Harrison in the ABC30 studios August 14, 2019 to talk about the upcoming event and the mission of CASA.
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Here is a transcript of the conversation:
Liz: So, let's talk about CASA to begin with. I think a lot of people don't understand what it is and how do you help children.
Wilma: Court-Appointed Special Advocates, or, as you said, CASA, we are the voice that matters for foster youth. And what we do is very unique. We recruit, we train, and we support community volunteers to be advocates and mentors to our foster youth in our community, ages zero to 21 years of age.
Liz: Why do they need advocates?
Wilma: You know, at no fault of their own, these children enter the foster-care system 100% because they were either neglected or abused by the very adults that they trusted. They were suddenly removed from their homes, and they entered the foster-care system, and they're scared.
Liz: I bet they are.
Wilma: So, by us having a trained advocate that's appointed by the court, they have someone that they can confide in, that's going to advocate for them, both at the courts and in the schools.
Liz: That's wonderful. So, what are some of the things that they have to advocate for?
Wilma: Well, for instance, they are the eyes and ears for the judges. They can't be everywhere. We have 2,600 foster youth between Fresno and Madera Counties.
Wilma: And of those 2,600 approximately 20% are considered at risk. So, they're already at risk, so the most at risk. And what they advocate for is, for instance, if a child in the foster-care system has special needs, that advocate will go to the schools and say, "You know, perhaps we need to have testing," or at the courts, "Let's visit the home of the resource parents. How are they doing with parent visitations?" They document all this as well as the immunizations to say -- Because, as parents, we would do that for our children. These children need advocates.
Liz: That's awesome. And you're always looking for more people to help out. So, I would like to know,Jennifer, about -- This is, like, their biggest fundraiser of the year. You said like 99% of all of your funding comes from this huge Crab Feed. So, tell me about that. Here's some video of the Crab Feed, I believe, from last year.
Jennifer: So, the Crab Feed is just an amazing time for the community to get together and celebrate CASA. We do raise much needed funds to support the advocates that are doing the work with the foster youth. We have a fantastic crab dinner and chicken, if that's more your thing.
Liz: You don't have to like crab, people.
Jennifer: Pasta. It's a great dinner, catered by Pardini's. And we have a live auction and a silent auction and the ability for the community to really support CASA financially. But it's also our biggest outreach event, because we have 800 people at this dinner that we get to tell all about what CASA does and celebrate our successes.
Liz: And you were saying earlier that a lot of people just have no idea what CASA is, what it stands for, what they do. And so you have an audience of 800 people every year that you get to tell about it.
Jennifer: Yes. Yes, it's been very exciting. The last two years have been sellout crowds. We're on track for another sellout this year. So it's just a really wonderful time to get to share the message of CASA, to share the stories of the youth that we serve, and hopefully get more people to come in and volunteer their time and just financially support the great efforts of our organization.
CASA Crab Feed
Friday, September 13
Valley Focus: Where you can get 'all you can eat' crab and help children