Voice of Business Awards Reception and Ceremony

On April 30, 2018 CASA for Children of Mercer and Burlington Counties received the Community Enrichment Award at the Voice of Business Awards Reception and Ceremony sponsored by the Burlington Regional Chamber of Commerce. Pictured here (L-R): Jill Ross, Vice President/Market Director Beneficial Bank; Roseann Vanella, President, Board of Trustees, CASA for Children of Mercer and Burlington Counties; Katherine Carmichael, Executive Director, CASA for Children of Mercer and Burlington Counties; Sandra Sciacca, Chairperson, Voice of Business Committee; Dennis Devery, Vice President Planning and Research, Thomas Edison State University; Kristi Howell, President/CEO, Burlington County Chamber of Commerce.

CASA for Children of Mercer and Burlington County was the 2018 recipient of the Community Enrichment Award at the Voice of Business Awards Reception and Ceremony on April 30 at the Merion in Cinnaminson, NJ.  This award recognizes a non-profit organization or agency that makes Burlington County a better place by making a positive impact on the lives of Burlington County residents.  The recipient demonstrates specific examples of its far-reaching commitment to the community.  Katherine Carmichael, Executive Director, CASA for Children of Mercer and Burlington Counties accepted the award on the organization’s behalf.

Pinwheels for a Purpose

CASA for Children of Mercer and Burlington Counties planted pinwheel gardens this spring to highlight the children in out-of-home placement who have a CASA volunteer speaking up in their best interests. The pinwheel gardens are part of a national movement to highlight the thousands of children across the Nation who are in foster care at any given time.

A Pinwheel Garden was “planted” at The College of New Jersey by CASA Staff to illustrate the children who have a CASA volunteer compared to those who still need a CASA volunteer. The number of children who need a CASA volunteer far exceeds the number who currently have a CASA to speak up for their best interests.


A Pinwheel Garden was “planted” at the Princeton Pike Corporate Center by CASA Staff and Friends with 420 red pinwheels to illustrate the children in foster care for Mercer County as of June 30, 2017.

2018 Mercer County Advocate Appreciation Awards

More than 50 volunteers, staff, family court judges and board members attended the 2018 Mercer County Advocate Appreciation Awards dinner on April 9 at Mercer Oaks Clubhouse in Hamilton Township on April 9. CASA for Children of Mercer and Burlington Counties is celebrating the volunteers with years of service pins and certificates.  The awards dinner was a wonderful evening to recognize the tireless work of volunteers who are the consistent adult in children’s lives while in out-of-home placement.  The evening was particularly special because CASA honored Judge Audrey P. Blackburn, who is retiring after a distinguished judicial career – much of it devoted to improving the lives of children in foster care to create forever families.  Judge Thompson also made some brief remarked and thanked the volunteers for their compassion and tenacity.

Child Sexual Abuse Awareness and Prevention with Sasha Joseph Neulinger

Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for Children of Mercer and Burlington Counties hosted a public presentation with Sasha Joseph Neulinger, actor, filmmaker and survivor of child sexual abuse at The College of New Jersey in Ewing. Sasha is a national advocate for reforms in child abuse and child abuse prevention.  The statistics are alarming: one out of four girls and one of out of six boys are sexually abused before they are 18 years old. Sasha Joseph Neulinger shared his poignant story with a audience of CASA volunteers, educators, counselors and students.  His TedX Talk is a powerful story to people around the world. Sasha’s TED Talk on March 27, 2015, Trauma is Irreversible. How It Shapes Us Is Our Choice has been viewed over 170,000 times to date. Sasha recounts his trauma in his film-making, ”There were countless moments in my life where I wanted to silence myself, crawl into a corner, and disappear from the world. Between the ages of 7 and 13, I even tried to end my life a few different ways. I choose love. I choose patience…. most of the time.”

Get to Know CASA and Meet Guillermo

CASA, court appointed special advocates, is a group of community volunteers who have been appointed by the family court and have undergone training. These volunteers all have a similar interest of advocating for abused and neglected children that have been removed from their homes. The Family Court Judges delegate each child to a CASA volunteer where they then aim to maintain their emotional, physical, and educational well-being by monitoring where they are placed. Volunteers stay with each case until it is closed and the child is placed in a safe, permanent home.

Our advocates change children’s lives. Lives like Guillermo, who was trafficked to the United States from Ecuador when he was 11 years old and forced into manual labor, to pay off family debts. He was made to work every day and not allowed to attend school. Finally, after five years Guillermo escaped and contacted the local police. Child Protective Services then helped him move into a youth homeless shelter as an emergency placement. Our CASA volunteer, Noelle, was assigned to Guillermo a month later. Noelle quickly realized how much support Guillermo needed and didn’t hesitate to act. Guillermo, on top of having no family connections, spoke very little English and had not gone to school since he was 10 years old. Noelle began making frequent visits to the school and shelter to assess his emotional, physical and educational needs. She developed strong relationships with school personnel and his caseworker to find him a safe, permanent home. As a result, Noelle identified a parent whose son was Guillermo’s best friend, who ultimately became Guillermo’s foster parent. Guillermo now resides with his friend and the family considers him one of their own. Despite being out of school for so long, due to the stability offered at his new home and the partnership Noelle formed with the school, Guillermo is thriving and will have the opportunity to graduate with his peers in a community that cares about him and a family that loves him. Volunteers are the most important resource any community organization can have, but ours are truly essential to our mission. Volunteers like Noelle provide a judge with recommendations and a carefully researched background of the child and their needs, which assists the court in making an informed decision about that child’s future. This past year, 97% of recommendations made by CASA volunteers were accepted by the judge. The work of our volunteers truly makes a difference in a child’s life. Thanks to our generous donors and 258 trained-volunteers, we could serve 352 children this past fiscal year. While we are proud of serving 11% more children with 22% more advocates, we know there is so much more to do. The number of children entering the child welfare system continues to rise substantially. More than 1,000 of our communities’ most vulnerable children living in foster care and residential facilities still need a CASA volunteer.

This year, CASA is hosting a “The Wizard of Oz” theme Red Shoe Gala, where guests are encouraged to wear red shoes to symbolize home. Dorothy’s journey through Oz can be compared with that of a child’s life — a child who faces an uncertain fate. As in “The Wizard of Oz,” the characters of the Tin Man, Cowardly Lion and Scarecrow each play a role in getting Dorothy home safely. Please join us for great music, silent and live auction and dining on Saturday, March 24, at 6:00pm at the Cobblestone Creek Country Club (formerly Green acres Country Club) in Lawrenceville, NJ. For more info, call 609-434-0050 and visit us on the web at www.casamb.org.

SAVE THE DATE: CASA Plans Red Shoe Gala to Help Foster Kids in Mercer & Burlington Counties

On Saturday evening, March 24, 2018, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for Children of Mercer and Burlington Counties will host our 17th Anniversary Red Shoe Gala to benefit our program serving over 350 children in out-of-home placement in our combined counties.  Our gala in at Cobblestone Creek Country Club in Lawrenceville features a cocktail hour, silent and live auction, dinner and some fabulous musical entertainment. Last year’s gala was a huge success and we intend to make this year’s event even better!

All proceeds will benefit the programs of CASA for Children of Mercer and Burlington Counties.  Our Red Shoe Gala focuses on “home “ because every child deserves a safe one.

As you know, CASA for Children of Mercer and Burlington Counties is an independent, non-profit organization committed to training and supervising community volunteers, appointed by the Family Court, to advocate for the best interests of children who have been removed from their homes due to abuse and/or neglect.  In Mercer and Burlington Counties this past year, 258 volunteers advocated for 352 children.  There are still over 1,000 children in our service area who did not receive a CASA volunteer to speak up for their behalf.  With your help we can change that.

Become a sponsor or advertise in our program book: http://midjerseychamber.org/event/17th-anniversary-red-shoe-gala-casa-children-mercer-burlington-counties/

You will receive wonderful visibility and publicity for your business.  We appreciate your support to ensure more children get the services they desperately need and reach safe, stable and permanent homes.  Most sponsorship levels also include tickets to the gala as well as an ad in our program book.  The form is included for your convenience and we welcome your reply as soon as possible to include your company in our “early bird” sponsor list which accompanies our invitation in mid-January 2018.

To learn more please contact Mary at mpenney@casamercer.org or call 609-434-0050, ext. 109.

CASA Receives Grant From the Employee Giving Fund of Church & Dwight

Terri Cardulla presented CASA for Children of Mercer and Burlington Counties with a generous grant from the Employee Giving Fund at Church and Dwight of Ewing, NJ at the organization’s fall fundraiser in Moorestown, NJ  on November 3, 2017.  L-R:  Alison Lorenz, CASA Volunteer; Roseann Vanella, CASA Board President; Terri Cardulla, Category and Shopper Insights Manager; Katherine Carmichael, CASA Executive Director; and Deena Betze, Esq., CASA Board of Trustees.

Congratulations to CASA Volunteer Dean (Shawn) Hagemann, Winner Of The 2015 Cherish The Child Program Award!

L to R: Lisa Oros, Case Supervisor, Teri Triano-Davis, Case Supervisor, Dean, Lori Morris, CASA of Mercer County Executive Director.

Dean has been a CASA Volunteer since 2009, and is currently working on his 6th case. His enthusiasm and tireless efforts to make a better life for each child he has served make him a true gift to our program. Congratulations Dean, and thank you!  To read more about Dean and his efforts, click here.

L to R: Jason Salvatore, Commission Member, Dean Hagemann CASA, Robin Scheiner, Commission Chairperson.