A new year brings a new chance to aid in the lives of loved ones, or those you don’t even know.

Some of these unknowns are local children who are in need of stability with help from court appointed special advocates (CASA). To begin 2021, CASA’s Golden Crescent staff is giving local residents a chance to volunteer for the program.

Golden Crescent CASA’s “Volunteer New Year” virtual training programs are scheduled to take place via ZOOM conference call on Jan. 18, Jan. 21, Jan. 25 and Jan. 28 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. After attending the four meetings (residents must attend all four), a local will have what it takes to become a CASA volunteer, becoming a Guardian at Litem for children in foster care. Volunteers advocate in the best interests of abused and neglected children involved in the court system, providing constant support and guidance through one-on-one experiences.

“We have a high number of kids coming in, so we really need more volunteers,” said Golden Crescent CASA coordinator Morgan Mueller.

Golden Crescent CASA covers Goliad County, as well as children in Calhoun, DeWitt, Gonzales, Jackson, Lavaca, Refugio and Victoria counties.

While the meetings are not traditionally virtual, CASA has been forced to change along with the ongoing pandemic. Although they won’t be in physical contact, the ZOOM meetings will be just as efficient to getting residents ready to volunteer.

“Basically, (they’ll receive) all of the tools they’ll need to be a successful CASA volunteer … from where CASA started to the tools they’ll use each month,” Mueller said.

After the end of the courses, students will officially become volunteers via a swearing-in hearing.

To sign up for the program, visit the Golden Crescent CASA website at goldencrescentcasa.org, click on the “advocates” tab and fill out the volunteer form. CASA will reach back, run a background check, and put a potential volunteer in the queue for classes.

The CASA program expanded nationwide in 1990 with the passage of the Victims of Child Abuse Act by United States Congress, eventually evolving into one of the largest volunteer organizations in the country. Currently, CASA has more than 900 programs in operation with at least one in every state.

Currently, Golden Crescent CASA has seven staff members, including Executive Director Tim Hornback, Development Director Regina May, Program Director Diana Sneed and Program Coordinator Mueller. The organization receives income from sources such as United Way, Victims of Crime Act and Crime Victims Compensation.

•tleffler@mysoutex.com•

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