Page 1

FALL 2017

Volume No. 29 | Issue 1

in this issue:


Message from the President/ CEO


Holding Tight to His Dreams


Community Partnerships Help Youth Thrive

MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT/CEO “There will come a time when you believe everything is FINISHED. That will be the BEGINNING.” — LOUIS L’AMOUR

Dear Friends, This will be my final letter to you as President/CEO of Voices for Children. In November, I begin my new positon as CEO of the California CASA Association which oversees the state network of 44 CASA programs in counties from Siskyou, Del Norte, and Modoc on the northernmost border to Riverside, Imperial, and San Diego in the South. My hope is that I will be able to help build these CASA programs and strengthen their ability to better serve the 62,000 California children who spend time in our state’s foster care system each year. It is a bittersweet moment for me. I love Voices for Children and have been proud, honored and humbled to have served as your President/CEO for these two decades. When I arrived in January 1997, this was a grassroots organization with a $400,000 budget and a small, dedicated team of staff managing 219 CASA volunteers advocating on behalf of 527 foster children. At the time, there were 6,000 children in San Diego foster care, so our organization was serving only 8% of the foster population. I knew we could do better, if only we could grow. “The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are.” -Chauncey Depew


Voices for Children transforms the lives of abused, abandoned, or neglected children by providing them with trained 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 provide a trained CASA volunteer to every abused, abandoned, or neglected child who needs one, and advocate to improve the lives of children in the foster care system.

Over the past 20 years, we have seen extraordinary growth serving the foster children of San Diego County, and since 2015, we have operated a new CASA program in Riverside County as well. This fiscal year, our organization as a whole will recruit, train, and manage more than 1,600 CASAs, raise $6.7 million, and advocate on behalf of 3,550 children. Even with this expansion, we know VFC must move forward even further to accomplish our vision of serving every foster child who needs a CASA. That is our core mission. We dream of the day when every foster child can find that “forever family” that all children need and deserve. It is impossible for me to recount all of my fond memories, to describe all of the stellar moments I have experienced, or to thank all of the individuals and organizations who have contributed so generously to VFC. Suffice it to say that I leave Voices for Children knowing we have built a strong and powerful organization, that the VFC professional staff is second to none, and that the next leader will be able to take this organization to even greater heights. As for our CASA volunteers, I so admire and am inspired by the superb work you do for our children. You are quiet heroes, walking through the world changing it in quiet ways and seeing endless possibilities. I am very proud to have known you. I hope you understand that as you change the life of one child at a time, you are making a difference for generations to come. Because you are. To every one of our donors, every one of our CASAs, and to our Board of Directors, our Community Ambassadors Council, and our outstanding staff, I am deeply grateful. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to lead an exceptional organization. With my heartfelt appreciation,

Sharon M. Lawrence, Esq. President/CEO 1997 to 2017


A Year of Growth & Service Now in its 37th year of service, Voices for Children continues on a remarkable trajectory of growth. As we have pursued our vision to “Serve Every Child,” in recent years we have been able to expand the CASA program and add new program specialties and innovations that allow us to serve more foster children. In the fiscal year spanning July 2016 to June 2017, Voices for Children served its largest number of children to date – 3,162 in San Diego County and 272 in Riverside County, totaling 3,434 children. The teams in the two counties oversaw the work of 1,623 CASA volunteers – approximately 20 percent of the CASA volunteers across the entire state of California. In San Diego County, our Case Liaison program continues to transform our service, allowing Voices for Children staff to triage cases as soon as children enter the foster care system and match them with CASAs much earlier than in the past. In addition, while children wait to be matched with a CASA volunteer, our Case Liaison staff members monitor their cases on an ongoing basis and provide needed services and advocacy. This year in San Diego County, Case Liaisons advocated on behalf of 878 children.



San Diego County foster children


Riverside County foster children

FY16-17: 3,050 FY17-18: 3,162 (+4.07%)

FY16-17: 140 FY17-18: 272 (+48.53%)






None of this work would be possible without the support of the entire community—individuals, foundations, corporations, and government agencies that contributed $6,305,087 to fund Voices for Children in San Diego and Riverside Counties.


Riverside County San Diego County

DAVID BIALIS APPOINTED INTERIM CEO After 20 years as President/CEO of Voices for Children, Sharon Lawrence resigned to become CEO of the California CASA Association. On October 2, VFC Board Chair Jill Skrezyna announced the appointment of David Bialis to the role of Interim CEO. David Bialis held senior positions at Cox Communications for much of his distinguished career, and among other community involvement, served on the Voices for Children Board of Directors from 2012 to 2017, including as Board Chair from 2014 to 2016. Board Chair Jill Skrezyna said, “The Board is pleased and grateful that Dave is willing to step forward during this time of transition. His long and distinguished résumé reflects his corporate and organizational acumen, and he will be able to lead the staff and continue the outstanding work of Voices for Children while we conduct a national search for our new President/CEO. Sharon Lawrence has had extraordinary impact on this organization for two decades and, with her team, has built a nonprofit organization second to none. We look forward to our next chapter, and thank Dave for his willingness to take on this new role in the interim.”



HOLDING TIGHT TO HIS DREAMS In many ways, Ezequiel is a typical 17-year-old—he loves music, football, basketball, and cars. But his recent graduation wasn’t just a personal triumph. It defied all odds. Ezequiel’s childhood was marked by violence, chaos, and turmoil. He moved more times than he could count. After Ezequiel’s father was taken to jail, the children were brought to Polinsky Children’s Center, a temporary emergency shelter for foster children in San Diego. As often happens, the children were returned to their parents, but later returned to the foster care system. Ezequiel is the second child in his family, but he has always felt protective of his older sister. One night, she got into a fight with their parents and ran away. Ezequiel, worried about his big sister, decided to go after her. They ended up couch-surfing, bouncing between friends’ homes. Ezequiel began to hang out with a local gang, and said he “faced a lot of stuff that’s hard to forget.” One night, after a violent confrontation, he almost got shot. “It changed me,” he said. He decided to turn himself in to law 4

enforcement, and when the police came to pick him up, they gave him an option: go to Juvenile Hall or to Polinsky. He chose the latter, and thus entered foster care again, eventually moving to San Pasqual Academy, a residential education campus for foster youth in Escondido. He noticed that some of the kids there had Court Appointed Special Advocates— CASAs—who came to visit, took them places, and advocated for them in court. He wanted one of his own, and eventually got his wish when Bruce Bailey became his CASA. Bruce grew up in Fishkill, New York, and attended Dennison University in Ohio, followed by law school and the U.S. Air Force. After four years active duty as a Staff Judge Advocate, he transitioned to the reserves where he continued to serve for 30 years, and was in private practice for 42 years. He is now a retired colonel who has worked with other veterans in

the Mount Soledad Memorial Association, among other volunteer projects. Bruce never had kids of his own, but has always been concerned about the plight of abused and neglected children. He learned about Voices for Children and its Court Appointed Special Advocate program and felt he had something to offer. He attended an Information Session, submitted his application, and after acceptance, completed VFC’s training program called Advocate University. After being sworn in as an Officer of the Court by a Superior Court judge, Bruce was matched with Ezequiel as his first case child. He describes being a CASA as an “incredible experience” that is “worth it ten times over.” Bruce has been Ezequiel’s CASA for two years, and in that time, advocated for the boy to receive the services he needed to succeed. Because of his CASA, Ezequiel

got braces, academic tutoring, and the chance to play on the football team. Currently, they are working on getting his driving permit. Most important, Bruce advocated to the judge to end the boy’s parents’ reunification services, so that he could stay at San Pasqual Academy and graduate. Bruce and Ezequiel typically get together once a month. They share their love of cars at “Cruisin’ Grand,” a classic car street festival in Escondido, or race go-karts. Although they have a lot of fun together, it was a challenge for Bruce to get him to open up. But to Ezequiel, those outings “showed how much he really wanted to be involved in my life,” and eventually he was able to trust Bruce. Ezequiel has been amazed and inspired by Bruce’s commitment. “The time he put in—it’s crazy that someone could actually care like that.” According to national research, 50 percent of foster youth will never graduate from high school or earn their GED, setting them on a downward spiral of underemployment, homelessness, and even incarceration. CASAs help prepare these youth for more successful

adulthoods by assisting with graduation requirements, college or job applications, budgeting, and other independent living skills crucial to leading productive, fulfilled lives. This June, Bruce was in the audience as Ezequiel received his high school diploma at San Pasqual Academy. In the fall, the young man will attend Mesa College, having won multiple scholarships. He then plans to transfer to a four-year college in Northern California and pursue a major in music production with a minor in business. None of this would have happened without the support of his CASA. Bruce recalls one of the first times he spent time with Ezequiel. They went to lunch at Panda Express and each received a fortune cookie. Bruce’s said, “Your loyalties will be rewarded,” while Ezequiel’s said, “Hold on tight to your dreams.” CASA Bruce Bailey saved his fortune and still has it two years later, knowing that his loyalties have been rewarded as he sees the ambitious young man Ezequiel has become, holding tight to his dreams and looking ahead to his future.

“He helped me realize that there’s more to life than what I thought.” -Ezequiel

YOU CAN HELP A FOSTER CHILD Volunteering as a CASA may be easier than you think! Studies show that foster children with CASAs are more likely to be adopted, less likely to re-enter foster care, and have a much better chance of graduating high school. Sign up for a volunteer Information Session, and bring a friend! Learn how you can provide the stability a foster child needs and make recommendations to the Court that reflect the child’s best interests. Nowhere else can you make this kind of lasting impact in the life of a child, fully supported by our professional staff.

Being a CASA may sound like a big responsibility, but Voices for Children is dedicated to supporting our volunteers.

• No prior experience is necessary. VFC provides all the training you’ll need. • You will be matched with a staff supervisor: your partner on the case! • CASAs receive mileage reimbursement and free continuing education opportunities. • You will receive invitations to exclusive CASA events and fun activities for you and your case child. CASAs must be 21 and able to commit to 10-15 hours of service per month. If being a CASA isn’t right for you right now, please help us spread the word. You can contact us to request flyers or a speaker for your club, place of worship, or company. For more information, call 858-598-2230 or email 5

RIVERSIDE COUNTY Voices for Children’s Riverside County CASA Program continues to flourish. During FY2016-2017, thanks to the dedication and commitment of 211 volunteers, 272 children in Riverside County received the caring, individualized advocacy only a CASA can provide. The Riverside County team looks forward to another successful year and aims to serve 350 children in FY2017-2018.



CHILDREN served by

211 CASAS DURING FY2016-2017



RECOGNIZED FOR THEIR SERVICE CASA Chris Mahr received the HOPE Collaborative Child and Family Advocate Award (HOPE Collaborative is the child abuse prevention coordinating council for Riverside County). For nearly a decade, Chris advocated for the same boy and held his educational rights. One of the social workers assigned to the case noted in her report that he always looked forward to spending time with Chris and that she was the most important person in his life. Now a young man, his case has recently closed. Although Chris will no longer be his CASA, she plans to continue to offer him support and friendship in the years to come. CASA Jim Steere was celebrated as an outstanding community volunteer at the 19th annual UNITY Collaborative Awards Luncheon, which recognizes volunteers from the cities of Corona, Norco, and Eastvale. For more than six years, Jim has been advocating for two young men in foster care. No matter how unstable their circumstances, Jim has remained a caring, consistent adult presence and role model in their lives. The boys have been placed in a combined total of 30 placements during the time Jim has been their CASA. During the past two years alone, he has dedicated more than 375 volunteer hours and driven nearly 3,000 miles visiting his case children. We thank Jim, Chris, and all of our CASA volunteers for their commitment to our communities, and especially the children we serve.


Voices for Children is delighted to announce that we have opened a third Riverside County office location at the Regional Access Project (RAP) Foundation building. This new space will allow our Riverside County team to better serve Coachella Valley and eastern Riverside County, including offering Information Sessions and trainings on site.


You can book a speaker to share how CASA volunteers are making impacts in the lives of children in foster care across Riverside County. To arrange for a speaker from Voices for Children to visit your group, organization, service club, or workplace, contact Sharon Morris, Recruitment and Training Manager, at (951) 472-9301 or for more information.

Grant Funding Creates Brighter Futures for Foster Children VFC is able to provide life-changing advocacy to vulnerable children thanks to the support of many compassionate individuals and generous grants from foundations, corporations, and government agencies. VFC is grateful for the extraordinary grants from the S. Mark Taper Foundation in support of our CASA program, Alliance Healthcare Foundation in support of medical advocacy for foster children, and the San Diego Women’s Foundation, whose gift will help address the tragically common problem of homelessness among foster youth. VFC also thanks the McCarthy Family Foundation, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and the Nordson Corporation Foundation for grants supporting older foster youth as they prepare for higher education, employment, and successful adult life. We are also grateful to Genentech, the Seth Sprague Educational and Charitable Foundation, St. Germaine Children’s Charity, Ashford University / Bridgepoint Education, the DeFalco Family Foundation, the Helmstetter Family Foundation, and the San Diego County Board of Supervisors through the Community Enhancement Program. In Riverside County, many children will experience the positive outcomes associated with having a CASA because of generous grants recently awarded by Valley Health System and Anderson Children’s Foundation. In addition, we are honored to be the recipient of Community Development Block Grants from the County of Riverside, the City of Moreno Valley, the City of Riverside, the City of Temecula, Bank of America, U.S. Bank, and Wells Fargo.

THANK YOU TO THE SUNDT FOUNDATION Every boy and girl deserves the chance to dream, believe, and achieve. Sadly, children living in the overburdened foster care system are faced with many obstacles to academic success—they deal with the trauma of abuse or neglect, frequent changes in home placements, and multiple school transfers. It’s easy to understand how this instability can be a barrier to pursuing higher education and accessing economic opportunity later in life. To help remove barriers to academic achievement for foster youth, the Sundt Foundation has created the Xtreme Youth

Program to benefit Voices for Children’s school-aged youth this year. Through this program, specially trained CASAs will work with our Advocacy professionals to identify promising foster youth who are struggling in their education and link them with private tutoring or other educational resources. In addition to tutoring, CASAs can request funding for essential educational items and resources, which are provided through VFC’s first-ever Academic Attainment Fund. Thanks to Kathliene and Jon Sundt and the Sundt Foundation, VFC can quickly and

efficiently address many of the unmet academic needs of children we serve. With the dedicated advocacy of a CASA and the additional academic support of the foundation’s Xtreme Youth program, foster children can be better prepared to overcome challenges, become lifelong learners, and go on to achieve their dreams.




HELP FOSTER YOUTH THRIVE Voices for Children partners with businesses and organizations that provide opportunities for our CASAs and kids to spend time together at little or no cost to our volunteers. LEGOLAND AND MERLIN’S MAGIC WAND HAVE PARTNERED TO PROVIDE MAGICAL EXPERIENCES FOR OUR KIDS FOR THE PAST THREE YEARS. Over the past year alone, they have provided opportunities for nearly 500 CASAs and case children to enjoy Legoland and SeaLife Aquarium. These trips have given siblings the ability to get together for a wonderful day of adventure and fun. Some have even used the visit to celebrate a birthday! We are so grateful to the team at Legoland and Merlin’s Magic Wand, including Tracie Hogencamp, Mike Pastor, and Tamara Thomas, for their help in making these special experiences possible for our foster children. THANKS TO THE YMCA AND WITHERS BERGMAN LLP, 16 FOSTER YOUTH WERE ABLE TO ATTEND SUMMER CAMP THIS JUNE. Our youth attended several different overnight camps run by YMCA of San Diego County. Due to financial barriers and inconsistent living situations, many foster children don’t have the chance to participate in extracurricular activities like summer camp. We are grateful to the YMCA for generously underwriting camp scholarships and to Withers Bergman LLP for their donation to help cover camp and transportation fees. Thank you for enriching the lives of our local children! VFC IS GRATEFUL TO OUR FRIENDS AT THE USS MIDWAY AND THE TRAVIS MANION FOUNDATION FOR INVITING OUR YOUTH TO PARTICIPATE IN THE LEADERSHIP ACADEMY. The Leadership Academy consists of a one-day program on service and leadership led by veterans, active military, and surviving family members aboard the historic USS Midway, including a behind-the-scenes tour and flight simulator, as well as ongoing service opportunities for all academy participants. We are grateful to CASA Bruce Bailey for introducing VFC to the program, which gave several of our youth this special learning opportunity. Thank you to the USS Midway and the Travis Manion Foundation for empowering and encouraging our youth! IN PARTNERSHIP WITH VFC, THE SAN DIEGO COUNTY FEDERATION OF REPUBLICAN WOMEN WILL PROVIDE SCHOLARSHIPS TO FOSTER YOUTH PLANNING TO ATTEND A VOCATIONAL EDUCATION PROGRAM. Four foster youth with CASAs through Voices for Children will receive scholarships of up to $500 each towards classes during the fall 2017 and spring 2018 semesters. VFC is grateful for this special opportunity for our foster youth to advance their education and prepare for successful employment.

From top: Two siblings had fun trying on Lego masks; Sisters were able to enjoy a day together with their CASA; CASA Blair took her case child and her sister for a fun day at the USS Midway


WELCOME TO OUR NEW BOARD MEMBERS We are pleased to announce the election of three new members to our Board of Directors for FY2017-2018. Jill Skrezyna will continue to serve as Chair of the Board for a second year. MARY BENIRSCHKE is a speech and language pathologist. She and her husband Rolf Benirschke, legendary San Diego Chargers kicker, founded The Legacy Foundation, which supports the Crohns & Colitis Foundation and other charities including Voices for Children. For 30 years, Mary has had experience working with children who have learning and social challenges, autism, ADHD, and other learning disabilities. She worked at Rady Children’s Hospital, and currently has a business, Learning Connections: Helping Families Put the Pieces Together. Mr. and Mrs. Benirschke are involved in numerous philanthropic organizations, including United Cerebral Palsy, UCSD Medical Center, the Zoological Society of San Diego, United Way, and the San Diego Blood Bank. They have four children—Erik, Kari, Tim, and Ryan—and live in Del Mar. ERBIN KEITH is chief risk officer and general counsel for San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), one of Sempra Energy’s regulated California utilities. In his current role, Erbin is responsible for all legal affairs for SDG&E. Previously, he held positions as senior vice president of external affairs for SoCalGas and was head of regulatory affairs and chief compliance officer for Sempra Energy. Erbin holds a law degree from South Texas College of Law and a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Texas. He is a licensed professional engineer and a member of the Texas and California state bars. He and his wife Melissa Keith, who serves as a CASA volunteer with Voices for Children, live in Encinitas. ANDREA MOSER is a marketing and economic development professional with a background in communications, economic development, and marketing. She held senior positions at at the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation and the Sanford-Burnham Institute for Medical Research. Andrea also worked with CONNECT, an internationally recognized program serving technology entrepreneurs. She graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in journalism and creative writing, and earned her M.B.A. at the Drucker School of Management at Claremont Graduate University. She lives in La Jolla with her husband, Greg.


Jill Skrezyna, Chair William B. Sailer, Esq., Vice Chair Ann Parode Dynes, Esq., Secretary Ted Tchang, Treasurer Mary Benirschke Rochelle Bold, Esq. Annette Bradbury Nancy Banning Doyle Gina Ellis Lisette Farrell P. Randolph Finch, Jr., Esq. AnneElise Goetz, Esq. Jennifer Greenfield The Hon. Susan D. Huguenor (Ret) Erbin Keith, Esq. Richard Kintz, Esq. George Lai Kristen Livingston Andrea Payne Moser Jennifer O’Connell Dick Pfister, CAIA® Katie Sullivan Haeyoung Kong Tang, Ph.D. Donald E. Willis Lise N. Wilson, Esq. Dale E. Yahnke, CFA, CFP® David Bialis, Interim CEO

COMMUNITY AMBASSADORS COUNCIL Lauree Sahba, Chair David E. Archambault Kathryn F. Ashworth, Esq. Stephanie Bergsma David Bruce Holly Bruce Vicky Carlson Mindy Fletcher Mark Gleiberman Dwight Hare Patricia Hughes Craig A. Irving Dave Jackson Jimmy Janacek Yolanda Janacek Richard Kelley Marina Marrelli David Marino Patsy Marino Susan McClellan Eleanor Navarra Julian Parra Claire Reiss Sheryl Scarano Cecil H. Steppe Pamela S. Wygod Alex Zikakis Lany Zikakis



STARRY STARRY NIGHT SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 9, 2017 SAHM ESTATE AT DEL DIOS RANCH, RANCHO SANTA FE On Saturday, September 9, 2017, Voices for Children held its 15th anniversary Starry Starry Night gala at Del Dios Ranch in Rancho Santa Fe. Set amid a magnificent orange grove, more than 430 supporters of Voices for Children gathered for a spectacular evening under the stars. Chaired by Lany and Alex Zikakis, the signature event raised nearly $1.5 million in support of foster children through our Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program. With the net proceeds, Voices for Children will be able to provide a CASA volunteer to more than 450 abused, abandoned, or neglected children in San Diego County for an entire year. Since Starry Starry Night’s inception in 2003, more than $11.9 million has been raised, an extraordinary fundraising accomplishment which has provided 4,760 foster children with the caring advocacy they deserve. Guests enjoyed an elegant cocktail hour in the Sahm Estate’s pool house featuring signature creations by Snake Oil Cocktail Co. Sophisticated décor by event producer Janice Dodge incorporated the beauty of the orange groves and Rancho Santa Fe hills, and Chef Andrew Spurgin teamed up with Culinary Concepts to serve a gourmet dinner under the stars. Guests bid on a competitive Live Auction, including a week at the coveted Esperanza resort in Cabo San Lucas and a 1923 Model T. Donors raised their paddles to directly Fund-a-CASA, generously giving more than $875,000 to provide caring advocates for local foster children. The evening concluded with celebratory dancing, drinks, and desserts. Starry Starry Night was a remarkable success thanks to our many sponsors, who are helping to provide a brighter future for the foster children of San Diego County.


This page: VFC Board Member Katie Sullivan and Dan Sullivan on their 45th wedding anniversary; Right page, from top (l-r): VFC Board Member Haeyoung Kong Tang, Alex Sun and VFC Board Chair Jill Skrezyna, Michael and Jordanna Ishayik, and Lorne Polger; Chihua Chen and VFC Board Member George Lai; VFC Board Member Mary Benirschke and Rolf Benirschke; Chairs Lany and Alex Zikakis and VFC President/CEO Sharon M. Lawrence; Dinner under the stars; VFC Board Member Lisette Farrell and Mick Farrell; Harvey and Sheryl White Photos: Tim Hardy


Finch, Thornton & Baird, LLP | Genentech | KPBS | Mitchell International | SDG&E | The San Diego Foundation | Katie & Dan Sullivan





WINE WOMEN & SHOES On Saturday, May 20, over 200 of San Diego’s most stylish women came together to sip, shop, and support Voices for Children at our 6th annual Wine Women & Shoes. Held once again at the historic Canfield-Wright Estate in Del Mar, the afternoon garden party featured a runway fashion show, premium wines, delectable bites by Waters Fine Catering, shopping in the fashion marketplace, and “Best in Shoe” competition—with Catherine Garcia of NBC 7 San Diego taking home Best Overall Shoe. The event grossed more than $320,000 for the foster children we serve thanks to co-chairs Patricia Brutten and Marina Marrelli, along with their dedicated Planning and Honorary Committees. Sponsors included First American Title, California Bank & Trust, L+L Printers, Modern Luxury, Ranch & Coast Magazine, Wells Fargo, and many wonderful culinary, winery, and fashion partners. From top (l-r): Event Co-Chairs Marina Marrelli and Patricia Brutten; Dina Buckley, Juli Oh, VFC Board Member Haeyoung Kong Tang, and Sepi Arrowsmith; Kim Palumbo and Megan Schilling Photos: Melissa Jacobs

From top (l-r): Event Co-Chairs Steven Strauss, Peter Farrell, and Dale Yahnke; Kristi and Dick Pfister; Cocktail Party Presenting Sponsors David and Holly Bruce, Qualcomm golf foursome Photos: Lowell Tindell

Celebrating its 25th anniversary, the Fostering Hope Golf Classic raised a record $320,000 for our CASA Program this March. At the Cocktail Party, VFC honored the memory of event founder, Jack Harrison, and the legacy of hope he created 25 years ago. We are grateful to Co-Chairs Peter Farrell, Steven Strauss, and Dale Yahnke, the Golf Host Committee who helped make the event a success, and to Dick Pfister for hosting us at the Country Club. Thanks to our third-year Presenting Sponsor, Dowling & Yahnke, and all the other generous sponsors: Cocktail Party Presenting Sponsor Holly & David Bruce; Silver Sponsor Farrell Family Foundation; Eagle Sponsors AlphaCore Capital, Cooley, Ann Parode Dynes and Bob Dynes, MG Properties Group, L+L Printers, Qualcomm Incorporated, Tim and Terry Riley, Scarano Family Foundation, and Katie and Dan Sullivan; Birdie Sponsors Bruce Bailey, Creative Capital Management, Inc., Cresa San Diego, Darin Boles and Sharon M. Lawrence, Ellis Family Foundation, Faye Hunter and Hugh Davies. GAG Charitable Foundation, and Kathryn Ashworth and The Hon. Thomas Ashworth III.


CELEBRATING ACHIEVEMENT Voices for Children held its annual Celebrating Achievment graduation celebration on May 31 to honor the young men and women who are completing their high school studies. CASA volunteers and their graduating case youth celebrated their accomplishments at the Air & Space Museum. Keynote speaker Candace, a former foster youth, delivered a powerful speech about overcoming the statistics—that 50% of foster youth won’t graduate high school. Candace thanked the CASAs in attendance for helping their graduates succeed, and left the class of 2017 with these words, “Whatever it is you decide to do, whether it’s college, vocational school, or entering the workforce, remember that you have already beaten the odds by being here tonight. And even if your future path isn’t a perfect one, as long as you persevere, believe in yourself, and have supportive people in your life, you are capable of greatness.” From top (l-r): The Honorable Laura Birkmeyer and The Honorable Carolyn Caietti shake hands with graduates and CASAs; Graduates and CASAs listen to The Honorable Laura Birkmeyer at The Air and Space Museum; Keynote speaker and former foster youth, Candace Photos: Stacy Keck

Left to right: Bill Bold and VFC Board Member Rochelle Bold; Councilmember Lorie Zapf and VFC President/CEO Sharon M. Lawrence; VFC Board Member Ted Chang and Alice Mo, VFC Board Member Jennifer O’Connell, VFC Board Member Lisette Farrell Photos: Jonathan Ter Haar

In April, our President’s Circle donors gathered in La Jolla for a lovely evening at the home of Rochelle and Bill Bold. Guest speakers were The Honorable Carol Isackson (ret.) and CASA volunteer Tania Jabour, Ph.D. Both women spoke passionately about their experience advocating for a very special foster youth, who at one time was assigned to Judge Isackson’s courtroom. CASA Tania shared with donors her moving nine-year journey as an advocate for this youth and the life-changing battles she has fought on her case. We were also honored to have Councilmember Lorie Zapf, District 2, present a City of San Diego Proclamation declaring April 20th “Voices for Children CASA Volunteer Day.” VOICES FOR CHILDREN


THE CASA MOVEMENT The role of a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) was first conceived in 1977 by Judge David Soukup in Seattle, who wanted to find a way for the court to obtain better information about foster children’s needs. He knew that dedicated and well-trained volunteers could accomplish that task, and the idea quickly spread across America, including in San Diego, where Voices for Children was founded in 1980. Today, there are 960 nonprofit CASA programs operating in 49 states. Each year, 600,000 children spend time in U.S. foster care, and there are 76,000 CASA volunteers providing advocacy to 15-20% of those children. But many children are still waiting for their own CASA. The National CASA Association was founded in 1982, and the California CASA Association in 1987. These organizations provide technical support, funding opportunities, mentoring, and promotion to CASA programs. In November 2017, Sharon M. Lawrence, Esq., will become the new CEO of the California CASA Assocation. She will oversee 44 programs serving 51 of the 58 California counties. California has, by far, the largest number of foster children in the nation—62,000— more than Texas and New York combined. Ms. Lawrence’s goal will be to help all of California’s local programs achieve the kind of success seen at Voices for Children, which today ranks as the 3rd largest of all U.S. CASA programs and the largest, most successful program in the Western states.


MARK YOUR CALENDAR! INFORMATION SESSIONS Learn more about the CASA program and what it takes to become a CASA

SAN DIEGO COUNTY Saturday, Oct. 14 | 10:00-11:30 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 18 | 6:00-7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 27 | 12:00-1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 8 | 6:00-7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 17 | 12:00-1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 28 | 6:00-7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 1 | 12:00-1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 6 | 6:00-7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 16 | 10:00-11:30 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 4 | 6:00-7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 12 | 12:00-1:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 20 | 10:00-11:30 a.m.

RIVERSIDE COUNTY Saturday, Oct. 21 | 12:00-1:30 p.m. (Riverside) Tuesday, Oct. 24 | 6:00-7:30 p.m. (Temecula) Wednesday, Oct. 25 | 12:00-1:30 p.m. (Palm Desert)

REAL WORD SPEAKERS PANEL Current and former foster youth share their stories and answer your questions

Monday, October 30 | 6:00-7:30 p.m. (Online webinar)


Tuesday, Nov. 14 | 6:00-7:30 p.m. (Temecula)

Thursday, October 5 | 6:00-7:30 p.m.

Wednesday, Nov. 15 | 12:00-1:30 p.m. (Riverside) Monday, Nov. 27 | 12:00-1:30 p.m. (Palm Desert) Wednesday, Nov. 29 | 6:00-7:30 p.m. (Online webinar) Monday, Dec. 11 | 6:00-7:30 p.m. (Riverside)

Kearny Mesa Thursday, November 2 | 6:00-7:30 p.m. Location TBD

Tuesday, Dec. 12 | 6:00-7:30 p.m. (Temecula) Friday, Dec. 15 | 12:00-1:30 p.m. (Palm Desert) Wednesday, Dec. 18 | 6:00-7:30 p.m. (Online webinar) Monday, Jan. 8 | 6:00-7:30 p.m. (Riverside) Tuesday, Jan. 9 | 6:00-7:30 p.m. (Temecula) Wednesday, Jan. 10 | 12:00-1:30 p.m. (Palm Desert) Monday, Jan. 22 | 6:00-7:30 p.m. (Online webinar)

Check out all our events and happenings on our website: WWW.SPEAKUPNOW.ORG/EVENT-CALENDAR/

Remembering Bobbie Roberta “Bobbie” Young (June 11, 1934 – March 31, 2017) was a devoted volunteer at Voices for Children for 20 years. She assisted staff members in a number of ways around the office, but one of her favorite jobs was packaging and sending VFC starfish collectibles around the world. We have created a special glass starfish to honor Bobbie – “Bobbie’s Blue.” VFC’s Starfish Store features unique, hand-blown starfish paperweights, keepsakes, and ornaments in multiple sizes and colors. Based on the Star Thrower tale by Loren Eiseley, the starfish remind us that we can make a difference, one child at a time.

Visit the online Starfish Store at to view the full product line.




2851 Meadow Lark Drive San Diego, CA 92123

WAYS TO GIVE PAY IT FORWARD: THE ADVOCATES CIRCLE You can create a meaningful legacy for foster children by remembering Voices for Children in your will, trust, or retirement plan. VFC has established The Advocates Circle to honor and recognize those donors who have made a commitment to include Voices for Children in their estates. Kathryn Ashworth, Esq., the co-founder of Voices for Children, is the Honorary Chair of The Advocates Circle. You only need to let us know that VFC is in your estate to become a member of The Advocates Circle. Your legacy gift will ensure that our Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteers can continue the work of Voices for Children for generations to come. For sample language for your will, to learn more about the benefits of legacy gifts, or to let us know you have already included a gift in your will, trust, or retirement plan, contact Anne Farrell, Chief Strategy Officer, at or (858) 598-2246.


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The Voice, Fall 2017  

The Voice, Fall 2017  

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