Volume No. 27 | Issue 1
in this issue:
Message from the Board Chair
Riverside County Program Update
Grant and Funding Highlights
“It is our PRIVILEGE and our ADVENTURE to DISCOVER our own special light.” — EVELYN DUNBAR Artist and teacher (1906-1960)
Voices for Children transforms the lives of abused children by providing them with volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs). OUR VISION
Voices for Children believes that every child deserves a safe and permanent home, and to that end, will review and monitor every court file in the system, provide a CASA to every child in the foster care system who needs one, and advocate to improve the lives of foster children.
MESSAGE FROM THE
CHAIR OF THE BOARD For many, June is graduation season, when students set off to begin new chapters of their lives. While I enjoy immensely the various events Voices for Children stages each year, there is one that is my favorite: our annual Celebrating Achievement high school graduation ceremony. This gathering of our graduating foster teens and their CASA volunteers is very moving. At the event, the young men and women often speak extemporaneously from the stage, explaining how they would not have reached this point without the support and encouragement of their CASA. One young man stood on the stage with his CASA, who had been with him for 15 years—since he was only three. The teen explained that his CASA was the most influential and most consistent person in his life, that she inspired him to dream big and—against all odds—reach this goal of a high school diploma. For foster youth, 50% will never graduate from high school or obtain a GED, and fewer than 3% will earn a college degree. CASAs can play a big role in reversing these statistics. It is thanks to you—and so many other wonderful donors—that we are able to provide these foster youth with the advocacy and resources they need to build the foundation for a successful adult life. Thank you! This summer will mark the end of a chapter for me, as I step down as Board Chair after completing my two-year term in June. I am very proud of all we have achieved during this time, and I am grateful for the leadership of our Board, our Community Ambassadors Council, and our staff. Most important, though, I am grateful for the extraordinary commitment and compassion of our CASAs who help foster children navigate what is likely the most difficult time in their lives. CASAs are heroes, and I have been proud to be part of an organization that supports their work. We have met some very important milestones in the past two fiscal years, and by the end of FY2016, Voices for Children will have provided advocacy to 3,000 San Diego foster children—the largest number in our history. We have also expanded into Riverside County, launching a new CASA program there to serve children in need. As Chair of the Board, I have had the pleasure and privilege of watching VFC continue to grow and advance, always with our mission at the heart of our work. On behalf of all of us at Voices for Children, we thank you for your compassion and concern for foster children who live in our community. And, on a personal note, I thank you for the opportunity to serve this extraordinary organization. With gratitude,
David Bialis Chair, Board of Directors Voices for Children FY2014-15 and FY2015-16
Celebrating our CASAs’ Impact CLARENCE FLOWERS CASA Clarence Flowers recently received the STARS Award in the Volunteer category from the Child Abuse Prevention Coordinating Council (CAPCC). Among its criteria, the STARS Award recognizes people and organizations that support foster children and their parents. Looking for a way to give back after his own children left for college, Clarence Flowers began his journey as a volunteer with Voices for Children in August 2009. Clarence, a high-ranking supervisor at Genentech, chose to become a CASA intending to help children in need and knowing that children in foster care are the most vulnerable in our community. In seven years, Clarence has served as the CASA to six different children on four separate cases, and has been supportive in reunifying children with their biological families, or, when reunification is not an option, has been instrumental in having children placed with adoptive families. In addition to his CASA service, Clarence is a frequent presenter at Voices for Children’s Advocate
University, the training program for future CASAs. Over three years, Clarence has trained more than 500 CASAs and staff in the Working with Biological Parents session of the training program. Clarence is passionate about and committed to the mission of Voices for Children and has made a lasting impact on the lives of his case children. Congratulations, Clarence, and thank you for your dedication to VFC and foster children in our community!
“Being a CASA provides a chance, in a positive way, to alter the course for the rest of a child’s life. This gives me the energy and the fortitude to give back.” – CASA Clarence Flowers
JUDY PRUYNE In 1994, following her retirement as a school psychologist, Judy Pruyne decided to devote some of her newfound free time to help foster children. Previously a teacher and nurse, Judy’s professional background and altruistic spirit helped make her a perfect candidate for CASA service. Some 21 years later, Judy has decided to end her CASA tenure, but her efforts have changed the trajectory of many children’s lives. In fact, Judy has advocated for 12 children during her tenure, and at one point was assigned to be the CASA for seven children at once, comprised of two sibling groups. As a CASA for her case children, Judy crisscrossed San Diego County and beyond, and recently joked that a move of her youth to Jamul made it much easier, as that young man had previously been placed temporarily in Orange County. Judy will be greatly missed at Voices for Children, but her legacy of kindness will forever live on in the hearts of the children she has served.
VOICES FOR CHILDREN
VOICES FOR CHILDREN CELEBRATES ONE YEAR OF CASA VOLUNTEERS IN RIVERSIDE COUNTY Riverside County is home to even more children living in foster care than in San Diego County and, for almost a year, they had no CASAs to advocate on their behalf. The Superior Court of California, County of Riverside, and the Judicial Council requested that Voices for Children begin providing CASAs to children in Riverside County. The Board of Directors of VFC carefully considered this request, and in November 2014, voted to expand the VFC CASA program to Riverside County. Although the program is still small, CASAs in Riverside County receive the same rigorous screening and training as CASAs in San Diego County. The Riverside staff are determined to promote the program’s growth while maintaining the same commitment to excellence for which Voices for Children has earned its sterling reputation. The program serves children and welcomes CASAs from all parts of Riverside County, which is geographically very large. We are grateful to the County’s Housing Authority
CHILDREN served by
for donating office space in the city of Riverside and to the Probation Department for donating office space in the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta. We are also proud to serve the Coachella Valley and the communities in the eastern part of Riverside County and have a full-time Senior Advocacy Supervisor focused on the program’s success in that region. The first class of Riverside County CASAs graduated in June 2015, and nearly a year later, the program is exceeding early goals. As of April 15, 2016, 100 CASAs have served almost 120 children in Riverside County; CASAs have reported 3,088 hours advocating for their case children; and VFC Riverside staff have hosted over 50 information sessions in the community and online. While VFC is happy to mark these important milestones, there are many more children in Riverside County who are waiting for a CASA. Our team is expanding CASA recruitment efforts and VFC looks forward to continued growth and development in Riverside County. For more information about this program, contact Jessica Muñoz, Esq., Program Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (951) 357-9100. To register for an in-person or online Volunteer Information Session in Riverside County, visit www.speakupnow.org.
Meet Two Riverside County CASAs CASA DIANN was looking for a way to volunteer in the community
CASA RON, who taught school in Compton for 34 years, finished
after she settled into her retirement. “I knew right away that working at a gift shop was not what I had in mind,” DiAnn shared. After doing some research online, she learned about Voices for Children and the Riverside County CASA program. DiAnn completed Advocate University and became a CASA. She has not only been advocating successfully for her case child, she also persuaded her husband, Ron, to become a CASA, too.
his training a few months after DiAnn and was recently assigned to a case child. When asked about their experiences as CASAs with VFC in Riverside County, Ron noted that he was impressed with how organized the VFC CASA program is, and both Ron and DiAnn expressed appreciation for their advocacy supervisor, Sharon Morris.
Voices for Children appreciates you, Ron and DiAnn!
Change a Child’s Life Today! Whether by making a 100% tax-deductible gift, or rallying your family, friends, or colleagues to do the same, you can change a foster child’s life today and give them hope for tomorrow. Help us reach our goal to serve 3,000 children by June 30, 2016. Visit the website at www.speakupnow.org, or call (858) 598-2211.
KAABOO NAMES VFC 2016 “KINDNESS PARTNER” Voices for Children is honored to have been selected as a “Kindness Partner” of the 2016 KAABOO music, comedy, and art festival (Sept. 16-18, 2016, at the Del Mar Fairgrounds). Not only will this designation help raise awareness to tens of thousands of festival-goers, but VFC will also be a financial beneficiary, including through sales of their passes. KAABOO 2016 will feature 80 musical acts including Jimmy Buffett, Aerosmith, Jack Johnson, Daryl Hall and John Oates, Lenny Kravitz, and The Blues Travelers, and there will be comedy stages, live mural painting, gourmet cuisine, a contemporary art exhibition, and a charity poker tournament. If you plan to purchase a festival pass, 20% of your purchase can come back to VFC! Simply go to www. ticketfly.com/purchase/event/1051501 and use the code VOICESFORCHILDREN. This offer is open to everyone, so please share with your friends and social media networks! For more information about the group sales tickets and/or the partnership, please call Voices for Children at (858) 598-2213.
GRANTS ENABLE VFC TO ACHIEVE ITS MISSION
Thank you to Merlin’s Magic Wand for donating 1,100 free tickets to Legoland California for CASAs and their case children to enjoy the park. Thanks, also, to Legoland for providing free parking to our CASA volunteers, who always report back that the children have had a fantastic, magical day at Legoland.
VFC’s life-changing advocacy services for children in foster care would not be possible without many extraordinary grants we receive from foundations, corporations, and government agencies. VFC’s grant success is a reflection of the high caliber of the organization, its managerial and programmatic excellence, and the esteem in which VFC is held by institutional funders. Major awards have recently been made by the Qualcomm Foundation, Alliance Healthcare Foundation, Farrell Family Foundation, Rose Foundation, In-N-Out Burger Foundation, and the Samuel H. French & Katherine Weaver French Fund. Thanks to additional generous grants from the Livingston Family Foundation and the Sleep Train Ticket to Dream Foundation, we will be able to support more college-bound Learning to Succeed scholars. Special thanks also goes to the City of San Diego for the two Community Projects, Programs, and Services grants we received at the recommendation of Councilmember Mark Kersey (District 5) and Councilmember Lorie Zapf (District 2). VFC has also received several major grants in support of the Riverside program, including our newest funder, Valley Health System, which made a significant grant. We are also grateful to Bank of America for its generous support of our Transition Age Youth program for Riverside County youth who are preparing for adulthood outside of the foster care system.
VOICES FOR CHILDREN
WINE, WOMEN & SHOES On April 30, more than 200 women came together to sip, shop, and support Voices for Children at our 5th Annual Wine, Women & Shoes. Held at the historic Canfield-Wright Estate in Del Mar—the beautiful home of Patricia and Marc Brutten—guests enjoyed a runway fashion show, sampled premium wines, savored delectable bites by Waters Fine Catering, shopped the fashion marketplace, and competed for “Best in Shoe.” The exciting live auction offered irresistible items, with additional opportunities to win the “Key to the Closet,” or choose fabulous
vintages from our “Wall of Wine.” We are grateful to co-chairs Patricia Brutten and Marina Marrelli and the dedicated Honorary Committee for their support, which helped us to raise over $300,000 for our CASA program and the foster children we serve. Sponsors included Cox Communications, California Bank & Trust, California Republic Bank, First American Title, South Coast Plaza, Amy and Jim Wood, and many wonderful culinary, winery, and fashion partners.
Clockwise from top left (l-r): Wine, Women & Shoes co-chairs Marina Marrelli and Patricia Brutten; Jen Davis, Carolina Finch, Carrin Goldstein; flowing fashion on the catwalk; VFC Board member Nancy Doyle with President/CEO Sharon Lawrence; Shante Schwarz, Rebecca Knuth, Zemina Zaferakis, Jennifer Kriech; VFC Board member Rochelle Bold and Sheryl White; the fashion marketplace. Photos: Lowell Tindell
ANNUAL JUDGES’ LUNCHEON In February, Voices for Children held the Annual Judges’ Luncheon at The Hilton San Diego Bayfront for our major donors. This year, The Honorable Laura J. Birkmeyer, The Honorable Carol Isackson (ret.), and Dr. Jeffrey Rowe assembled for a special panel to discuss the issue of mental health in foster children and the critical role CASA volunteers play in positively shaping outcomes. In addition, the guests heard remarks from The Honorable Carolyn M. Caietti, and foster youth Alaysia shared her personal story of life within the foster care system and the ways that her CASA Erin Pavelko has motivated her and help her to thrive. Clockwise from top left (l-r): VFC Board member Ann Dynes, Rita Atkinson; Judy McDonald, VFC co-founder Kathryn Ashworth, VFC Board member Stephanie Bergsma, The Honorable Carol Isackson (ret.); Dr. Jeffrey Rowe at the podium; Cecil Steppe. Photos: Tim Hardy
From top: Warming up at the Fairmont Grand Del Mar; co-chairs Richard and Connie Unger and Katie and Dan Sullivan; VFC Board member Dale Yahnke with wife, Julie Yahnke; Papa Doug Manchester and Dave Jackson. Photos: Lowell Tindell
FOSTERING HOPE GOLF CLASSIC On April 10 and 11, 2016, VFC hosted the Fostering Hope Golf Classic and Cocktail & Auction Party at the Fairmont Grand Del Mar. The two-day event raised a record $274,000 for our CASA program. We are grateful to co-chairs Katie and Dan Sullivan and Connie and Richard Unger, and the Golf Committee, who helped make our 24th annual golf tournament such a success. Many thanks to our Presenting Sponsor, Dowling & Yahnke Wealth Management, and all our other generous sponsors: Qualcomm Incorporated, Cox Communications, Holly and David Bruce, Ann Parode Dynes and Bob Dynes, KPBS, L&L Printers, MG Properties, Creative Capital Management, Cresa San Diego, Darin Boles and Sharon M. Lawrence, Ellis Family Foundation, G.A.G Charitable Foundation, Kintz Consulting LLC, and Ranch & Coast Magazine.
VOICES FOR CHILDREN
NON PROFIT ORG US POSTAGE PA I D SAN DIEGO, CA PERMIT NO. 2759
2851 Meadow Lark Drive San Diego, CA 92123
VOLUNTEER INFORMATION SESSIONS Each month, Voices for Children hosts several information sessions in both San Diego and Riverside Counties. Learn more about the CASA program and hear about the volunteer experience firsthand from a CASA. If you aren’t already a CASA volunteer, please consider becoming an advocate. If you are a CASA, then please invite your family, friends, and colleagues to an upcoming session to learn more about this rewarding volunteer work!
SAN DIEGO COUNTY
JUNE Wednesday, June 8 | 6-7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 18 | 10-11:30 a.m. Friday, June 24 | 12-1:30 p.m.
JUNE Thursday, June 9 | 5-6:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 14 | 6-7:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 21 | 12-1:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 28 | 6-7:30 p.m.
JULY Thursday, July 7 | 6-7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 16 | 10-11:30 a.m. Friday, July 22 | 12-1:30 p.m. AUGUST Saturday, Aug. 6 | 10-11:30 a.m. Friday, Aug. 12 | 12-1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 17 | 6-7:30 p.m.
Palm Desert Perris Riverside Temecula
JULY Thursday, July 7 | 12-1:30 p.m Palm Desert Tuesday, July 19 | 6-7:30 p.m. Riverside Saturday, July 23 | 12-1:30 p.m. Temecula AUGUST Thursday, August 11 | 5-6:30 p.m. Palm Desert Tuesday, August 16 | 12-1:30 p.m. Riverside Tuesday, August 30 | 6-7:30 p.m. Temecula
Register online for a session in either county at www.speakupnow.org.
A Bittersweet Goodbye A few months ago, we shared on our Facebook page the story of CASA Emily Vizcarra and Violet, her case child. The Riverside-based volunteer was Violet’s CASA for only six months before the little girl was flown to Texas to live with her aunt. Yet, during that time, Emily became Violet’s best friend. She saw Violet every week at her placement, and tirelessly advocated for the little girl’s best interests. CASA Emily is 21, a full-time student, and has a part-time job, but she found time to be a CASA. This photo was taken as Emily and Violet said goodbye, with Violet wiping tears from Emily’s face. We hear that Violet is doing well with her new family, and thank Emily for being an inspiration to us all.
Voices for Children is active on social media! “Like” us on Facebook, read our “Tweets,” and hear what people are saying about VFC and foster care issues.