Advocate Appreciation Luncheon 2024

CASA of Bell and Coryell Counties enjoyed celebrating the volunteer works of its CASA Advocates on Thursday, April 18th at the Bell County Museum. The entire CASA staff was on hand to greet and thank almost 50 volunteers that attended the event. A wonderful lunch was provided by Wings, Pizza, N Things of Temple and a number of door prizes were also given away to the advocates with random drawings throughout the program.

Executive Director, Kevin Kyle, greeted and thanked the advocates for their tireless efforts to serve CASA kids throughout Bell and Coryell Counties. He pointed out that during 2023, CASA advocates put in more 4,297 hours on their cases while traveling 63,859 miles to make visits with CASA kids all over the state of Texas. The dollar value of the work performed by CASA advocates saved the State of Texas $136,645 in state services over the past year. All of this was done by 135 volunteers last year who served 268 children involved in 154 cases.

CASA Board Secretary, Laura Smith, also acknowledged the great works of CASA volunteers and spoke of the difference that CASA can make in a child’s life. Laura is a retired educator and often saw the impact that CASA volunteers had on the children she taught. Laura also recognized the board and their support for the vibrant and dedicated group of volunteer advocates that CASA of Bell and Coryell Counties has in place right now.

Lauren McBee, who is the Faith Based and Community Engagement Specialist for DFPS in Region 7 made a presentation  about a revitalized parent support group that is open to any parents who have had children removed and need support from others in that position. The support group meets in Temple each week and provides free meals to the parents and an open forum to discuss challenges and needs they face as they hope to regain custody of their children. She encouraged all advocates to promote this group to any parents they know who could use some friendly support.

The keynote speaker for the lunch event was Brian K. Hall, Senior Advisor of Supplier Diversity and Equity for Shell Oil Corporation in Houston. He is also the founder of a non-profit agency in Houston called Friday Harbour and their mission is to provide hotel stays and support for parents of children who have to be in the Houston area for extended stays for medical care. He delivered an inspiring message of hope and empowerment as he spoke to the group and encouraged every person in the room to find some way to make a difference for children in our communities. He warmly acknowledged all of the accomplishments of the CASA volunteers and told his personal story of being prompted to find ways to make an impact on others less fortunate.

The 2024 appreciation luncheon was moved to April this year to coincide with Volunteer Appreciation Month and the National Week of Volunteer Recognition.  According to Executive Director, Kevin Kyle, CASA plans to keep the event in April in future years and next year will resume honoring volunteers with service awards and distinguished recognition awards as they have done at past events. CASA wishes to thank everyone who helped make the 2024 Advocate Appreciation lunch event successful and memorable.