Special to The Leader
It has been a long-standing tradition for the faculty, staff and students at Lamar State College-Orange to be involved with the local community. LSC–O representatives can be found volunteering their time and talent, donating goods and money, supporting events that benefit the community. The campus spirit of helping was certainly alive and well this holiday season.
What started as a small suggestion by one staff member soon snowballed into a generous donation by employees to the local chapter of CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate or Advocates for Children). Charlotte Chiasson, an administrative assistant in the College Success Division, learned through her sister, Cil Dixon, of the need for help in providing Christmas gifts for children being served by CASA. Chiasson distributed a list of needs to faculty and staff and began to get replies from colleagues that wanted to help. Elias Jureidini, a math professor, offered to donate a gift card ($20) that he and other LSC-O employees received and urged others to do the same. Within minutes, Chiasson had 10 cards and after an hour there were 30. At final count, over 40 cards were donated to the CASA children. In addition to the cards, a number of toys and gifts were contributed.
Dixon, a CASA volunteer for six years, commented on the LSC-O effort: “The staff at Lamar State College-Orange might never know how they have touched a life with their donation to Advocates for Children, Inc. The children in the “system” are away from home during the holidays and to know someone cares enough to donate has to make them feel like someone cares. Thank you Lamar-Orange for making a difference for an abused or neglected child.” CASA is a non-profit organization that provides volunteers to advocate for abused or neglected children who find themselves embroiled in the legal system. Lamar State College-Orange’s very own Vice President of Finance, Dana Rogers, was on the original steering committee that organized the local CASA program in 1994 and was one of the first volunteers to assist the children. CASA first set up their offices in the Sanders Law Firm building and is now located in a new facility on Gloria Drive that was made possible with donations from Tony and Gisela Houseman.
Brianne Moreau, another LSC-O employee, has a special connection to CASA after recently adopting her son. “CASA is a remarkable organization that provides court appointed advocates for abused and neglected children. In fact, they provided an advocate for my own child and I remain forever grateful to this organization for providing critical legal support to my baby when he had no voice of his own. Which brings me to my next plug …these children need homes. Monetary gifts and donations this holiday season are amazing, but homes are best! These babies do not discriminate when it comes to their desire for parents of their own-race, creed, origin, age, married, single, big family, small, etc. They just want consistency and the love of a parent and the eternal essence of family. Toys, things, and Walmart gift cards do remind these angels that they are loved by many, but if you have any room in your heart to welcome one of them into your life, please come talk to me. I’d love to help you get started on a journey you will wonder why you didn’t start sooner.”
Advocates for Children, Inc. (CASA) consists of volunteers who become the voice for abused children in the court system. CASA volunteers go through at least 30 hours of intensive training, are certified by a judge, and commit to at least 10-12 hours per month on a child abuse or neglect case for at least one year. Volunteers are committed and diligent in their efforts for these at-risk children. These children are generally placed in foster care by the courts. CASA is assigned to investigate the child’s case and to recommend what is in the best interest of the child. It is a very serious and needed work. Judges need to review all the information they can possibly receive to decide future placement of a child. CASA seeks safe, permanent homes for these children. Advocates for Children, Inc. (formerly known as CASA of Orange County Inc.) began in December 1994. If anyone is interested in becoming a volunteer, they may contact the office at 877-586-6548.