Child advocacy group celebrates anniversary; looking for more volunteers

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JASPER COUNTY, Mo. — An organization that helps kids through a difficult time in their lives needs your help.

The Jasper County CASA, or Court Appointed Special Advocates is coming up on its first anniversary, and is in need of more volunteers.

“We’re at about 15% of the children that need an advocate have one now and our first year we’re pleased with that but we certainly, um, have the capacity to keep growing and need more volunteers,” said Debi Koelkebeck, former CASA director.

Right now there are over 400 kids in the system but only but just 34 volunteers.

CASA volunteers are appointed to a child by a judge to look out for them while they’re in the foster care system.

“To get to know everything about a child that’s in foster care due to child abuse and neglect, a they meet with parents, teachers, therapists, get all the medical reports, all the legal reports about the child and really spend time with the child to learn um what’s going on in their situation, what’s in their best interest,” said Koelkebeck.

One of those volunteer advocates is Margaret Snyder, who has a heart for children as a mom, grandma, and long time pediatric nurse.

“I was a foster parent back in the 80’s and i always felt like nobody listens to the kids, it’s what everybody else wants, nobody seems to take the time so when i heard about CASA i thought this is my chance, we can make those kids voices heard out there,” said Snyder.

As a volunteer, she doesn’t get paid for meeting a young person she’s never known before, at least in money.

“Immeasurable, there’s no way to measure it, these kids are our hearts, it’s what we’re all about,” added Synder.

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