Each year, more than 1,000 abused or neglected foster children in Contra Costa County come under the court's care because they are unable to live safely at home. These children depend on strangers, like the police, foster parents, social workers, judges and lawyers to look out for their best interests.
One stranger who can become a trusted friend and source of ongoing support is a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) volunteer. There are currently 94 foster children waiting to be matched with a CASA volunteer.
Be a CASA volunteer
CASA volunteers advocate one-on-one for abused and neglected foster children to make sure they do not get lost in the overburdened legal system.
An ideal CASA volunteer has the ability to work with children, parents, family members and professionals using concern, tact, and basic human relations skills. They must be at least 21 years of age and pass a background check.
Male volunteers are matched with male foster children. Female volunteers are matched with boys and girls.
A CASA volunteer must complete a 40-hour training program prior to choosing a case assignment.
The next training class is on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from Sept. 10 through Oct. 17. Volunteers must attend all classes.
If those dates aren't good for you, spring classes will be held from Jan. 7 through April 1.
A CASA volunteer commits for two years or until their foster child leaves the program. A typical commitment averages 15-20 hours per month -- time well spent.
To learn more about becoming a CASA volunteer, visit www.cccocasa.org or call 925-256-7284. Classes are held at 2020 N. Broadway in Walnut Creek.
Art in the Park
The Martinez Arts Association hosts Art in the Park from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 18, at Susana Park, at the corner of Susana and Estudillo streets in Martinez.
Each year more than 50 artisans and crafters come from all over the Bay Area provide art, food, a wine and beer garden and live music.
Proceeds benefit the Martinez Art Association's scholarship fund. Visit martinezarts.org/art-in-the-park for more information.
Big La Bocce fun
More than 130 bocce ball players raised $17,000 in "The Big La Bocce" tournament, benefiting St. Vincent de Paul of Contra Costa County and Loaves & Fishes of Contra Costa, who collaborate to offer a free lunch program in Pittsburg.
The tournament was won by "Let's Roll," a team of lawn bowlers from Concord, captained by Todd Armstrong, with Dave Bean, Greg Chan and Ron Wessels.
Wells Fargo Bank, Kaiser Permanente, DD & Company, Katy Andino, the Jim and Leanne Noe Family and Kohl's sponsored the event. Martinez Kiwanis, Kohl's Associates in Action, and the Carondelet High School lacrosse team provided volunteer assistance.
"This event is intended to heighten the awareness of the missions of St. Vincent de Paul and Loaves & Fishes within the community. Many people throughout the county are not familiar with the family support services (they) provide, such as food, a free medical clinic and a job training program for the difficult-to-employ, " said Jim Noe, St. Vincent de Paul of Contra Costa County board president.
ARF has been awarded its sixth consecutive four-star rating from Charity Navigator, a charity evaluator, placing the organization at a level achieved by only 3 percent of charities rated.
"ARF is funded entirely by private donations and receives no federal or state funding," says executive director Elena Bicker. "Our efficiencies allow 87 cents of every dollar donated to be directed to programs, which include lifesaving animal rescue and adoption, therapeutic pet visits to people in need, humane education for children, and low-cost spay and neuter for the community."
Ken Berger, president and chief executive officer of Charity Navigator writes: " ... Tony La Russa's Animal Rescue Foundation outperforms most other charities in America. This 'exceptional' designation from Charity Navigator differentiates (it) from its peers and demonstrates to the public it is worthy of their trust."
Ratings are based on measurements of sound financial management and commitment to accountability, and transparency to guide charitable giving.
This could not be achieved without a staff committed to efficiencies and supplemented by the tireless hours put in by more than 500 dedicated volunteers intensely involved in every aspect of ARF's work.
ARF saves the lives of dogs and cats who have run out of time at public shelters, giving them loving care and another chance at life until a new home can be found. ARF's innovative People Connect programs strengthen the human-animal bond for children, the elderly and other people in need. Congratulations!
Save the date for the ARF Awards and dinner at 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 14, at the Four Seasons Hotel, 757 Market St. in San Francisco. ARF will honor individuals and organizations whose generosity and compassion make ARF's dreams a reality.
Join Elaine and Tony La Russa and friends for an evening featuring a cocktail reception, gourmet dinner, silent auction and award presentations to:
Visit www.arf.net or contact Judy Bentley at 925-296-3154 to reserve your seats. Cost is $250.
CVWC's 40 years
Clayton Valley Woman's Club welcomed members and guests at Boundary Oak Country Club in June to celebrate 40 years of community service.
Residents interested in having a good time while helping the many good causes these generous ladies support are welcome to attend one of their monthly meetings, the second Tuesday of every month, except July and August, at Holy Cross Lutheran Church, 1092 Alberta Way in Concord.
Their next major fundraiser is "Fall Happening, An Evening with Dan Ashley and his band PUSH" on Oct. 13, at the Oakhurst Country Club, 1001 Peacock Creek Drive in Clayton. For more information, call 925-672-9448 or visit www.claytonvalleywomansclub.org.
"Good Neighbors" is compiled by Faith Barnidge. Send club and organization news, Scouting items, notices of awards and other submissions to email@example.com.