Tahlequah Daily Press

March 27, 2014

March 29 prom dress resale to benefit CASA


TAHLEQUAH — Northeastern State University’s Media Campaigns and Events class is presenting a campaign to help Tahlequah area high school women have a fun prom experience while raising awareness and money for Court Appointed Special Advocates of Cherokee Country.

The prom dress resale will be from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, March 29, in the NSU University Center Ballroom Lounge. All dresses will be sold for under $40.

All dress sizes and styles will be available for young women to choose from. Money raised from this resale will benefit CASA.

Established in 1995, CASA is a nonprofit (501c3) organization that relies on the generosity of the community, as well as Lake Area United Way and annual state and federal grants to operate. There are no fees assessed for the one-on-one advocacy work done by volunteer child advocates.

“The CASA board of directors and staff hope this ‘Dress to Remember’ activity not only raises money for CASA, but also raises awareness of the CASA mission, ‘to be a voice for children who come into the court system as a result of abuse and/or neglect by providing trained volunteer advocates who speak independently for the best interests of the children,’” said Jo Prout, CASA executive director.

CASA of Cherokee Country trains volunteers age 21 and older to speak for abused/neglected children in three area courts: Cherokee County District Court, Adair County District Court, and Cherokee Nation Tribal Court.

“It is important for the community to understand that in calendar year 2013, there were 362 young victims of abuse and neglect in the three courts served by CASA of Cherokee Country. CASA volunteer advocates were able to serve only 72 of those children, leaving nearly 300 without an independent voice in court. Greater numbers of abused/neglected children can be served if there are greater numbers of CASA volunteers,” Prout said.

CASA volunteer training is offered three times each year. The next training will be in May 2014. Training consists of 30 hours of classroom interaction plus six hours of courtroom observation. Once training is completed, the trainee is sworn in by a judge and becomes an officer of the court, providing an independent set of eyes and ears for the judge presiding over juvenile deprived cases.

Generally speaking, when a child has a CASA volunteer gathering information on his/her case, the child comes out of foster care more quickly, and the case is resolved more quickly.

Phillip Curry, Wagoner senior, said CASA is amazing because it helps children in need.

“Raising money for this organization is a big deal, not only to me, but to this group as well,” said Curry, a member of the campaign. “It’s important for the community to support Tahlequah youth and to give back to the community.”

Jennifer Clark, an Allen, Texas, senior, said supporting CASA is essential because they support Tahlequah youth who are in need.

“My group is determined to not only raise a significant amount of money for CASA, but also awareness,” said Clark. “With our determination and CASA’s help, I believe we will have a successful event.”

The Campaigns and Events class, taught by Dr. Dana Eversole, professor of media studies at NSU, is organizing four events this semester. For more information, email dorsch@nsuok.edu.