Before she was a bestselling author, Ashley Rhodes-Courter realized the importance of Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) volunteers.
“I grew up in foster care myself,” Rhodes-Courter said. “When I was a child, I had a CASA volunteer who was instrumental in getting me out of foster care…. She was a shining light.”
Now, Rhodes-Courter plans to share her personal story with volunteers and supporters of CASA of West Texas at an upcoming luncheon and style show.
“It’s really important to speak to a CASA group,” Rhodes-Courter said. “They’re such thankless jobs. They’re volunteers, so none are paid. They’re dealing with children in foster care who can be abused, neglected or underfed.”
CASA of West Texas and the Kappa Alpha Theta Midland Alumnae Chapter are hosting the guest speaker Feb. 23 at Midland Country Club.
Nationally, CASA is the official philanthropy of Kappa Alpha Theta. Elizabeth Moore, president of the Greek organization’s local alumnae chapter, hopes the luncheon speaker will make an impact.
“We’re hoping to educate the audience about the importance of CASA,” Moore said. “People will realize the significance and how CASA helps people on a daily basis because they’re hearing her success story and how she was helped by CASA.”
The event benefiting CASA of West Texas will recognize Sylvia Chavez, associate judge of the Child Protection Court of the Permian Basin. Chavez said she’s grateful that CASA will acknowledge her work.
“I appreciate that this being the first annual luncheon, they would select me,” Chavez said. “I feel quite humbled by the honor.”
Chavez, who was appointed to her position in 2001 after working as a lawyer, has developed appreciation for CASA workers and volunteers.
“I handled cases when I was in private practice and had experience working with CASA volunteers,” Chavez said. “Once I started this position, I had more admiration and respect for the work they do.”
Kathy Harmon, volunteer recruiter and marketing specialist for CASA, said Chavez aligns with the luncheon theme: The Power of One.
“One person can be such a powerful voice,” Harmon said. “In our case, we’re honoring Judge Chavez, who has been such a significant voice for children in our courts and shows how significant one person can be. It goes also with our volunteers who make a powerful difference in children’s lives.”
Want to go?
Power of One Luncheon and Children’s Style Show, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Feb. 23 at Midland Country Club.
For information on tickets, call 683-111 4 or visit casawtx.org.
The luncheon will include a style show featuring children’s clothing from Dillard’s and Kenzington’s Kloset, a children’s store in Odessa.
Rhodes-Courter will be available to sign copies of her two memoirs, “Three Little Words” and “Three More Words.” She tells her story through books and speaking engagements to give a voice to others who have been in the foster care system.
“It’s in part because not a lot of former foster kids do this,” Rhodes-Courter said. “Many end up homeless, in alcohol rehab, addicted to drugs, teen parents or even dead. I’ve been blessed in my life and want to encourage people to take a chance on these kids.”
Harmon, who first heard Rhodes-Courter speak at a National CASA Association conference, hopes West Texans will appreciate the message. She thinks the event will highlight the need to help children locally.
“We want to honor the judge and bring awareness to the community about child abuse and other challenges children face,” Harmon said. “With the speaker, we show the resilience children have.”