The Advocate Advisor
CASA Child Advocates of Montgomery County
Sept./Oct. 2017

Program Notes
By Pat Creighton 
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August 31st marked the end of our 2016/17 year and it has been a year to remember. We accepted 307 new children, an increase of 38% over the previous year, and served 649 children with 261 volunteers. We welcomed 82 new or returning Advocates and one new Supervisor, Laura Rodriguez.
We completed our 2nd year in the Collaborative Engagement Program with Barb Robertson and Anna McDonnell leading the way. Our PMC Best Practice Project closed its 2nd year as well. Marilyn introduced us to trauma-informed advocacy through TBRI® (Trust Based Relational Intervention) training. Fawn worked with our Texas partners to produce a new Resource book for our PMC children, trained 26 advocates in our Fostering Futures Program and provided opportunities for 80 teens to participate in adult preparation activities including: buying a car, budget planning, and college campus tours. Kim Ayres led our Educational Committee to provide support, recommendations, and resources for our school age children while Patti and Kim Vest joined forces to provide an informational training guide for Advocates dealing with Infants and Toddlers. Mandy stepped in to ensure that we continued to recruit and interview new volunteers while we looked for a new Recruitment Manager, and Gwen acted as our Community coordinator for many children’s events including our Bike Rodeo and Easter Egg hunt.
Our wonderful Volunteer Committee (including: Susan Olver, Jane Funke, Betty Keyser, Judith Bartok, Donna Pershall, Sharon Howerton, Laurie Schoepf, Dana Grimsley) coordinated support group training, treated the CPS caseworkers and staff to an appreciation lunch, helped with various children’s events, provided support to new Advocates, and honored Program Supervisors with a special lunch!
Sadly, we lost a dear friend and Advocate, Donna Pershall, when she passed away very suddenly this past month. And…not to be forgotten…Harvey completed our year by devastating thousands of homes and displacing many of our families, friends and children. 
As we look to make sense of it all, I am grateful to be surrounded by strong, selfless men and women who understand our responsibility to look after each other, to hold each other up, and to love without condition.
Our work is not done but I know that we are up to the task! Thank you for all you do.
Program Director

By Kim Ayres
Q: What, if any, supports are in place for young adults who come from foster care backgrounds when it comes to college and university systems?
A: Texas Health and Human Services, in conjunction with the Texas Children’s Commission, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and Texas CASA continue to move our children forward. Take a look at a recent publication and video:
A great big thank you to John O’Malley, fellow CASA Advocate and member of the CASA Education Committee, for bringing 8 of these publications to us. They are located in our CASA library and can be checked out for your review. Of particular interest is a two page Benefits Chart of who, what, when and where and how benefits are made available to our students.
In addition to the copies in the library, you may also find these resources online in the Advocate Center under "Resources", then scroll down to the "Education" section (CLICK HERE to visit now).

Monthly Education Committee Meetings:
Monthly education committee meetings are held the 4th Wednesday of each month from 2-4 pm at the CASA office. Advocates are encouraged to contact your supervisor and/or Kim Ayres with immediate needs. 
Please consider utilizing this resource of veteran educators if you have questions or concerns about your CASA child’s education. No question is too big or too small. We are here for you!

Collaborative Family Engagement
By Anna McDonnell
Are you wondering if your case should be considered for Collaborative Family Engagement (CFE)?  The following questions might help provoke a good conversation between Advocates and CPS regarding when to apply CFE to a case. 
  • Would the family/child benefit from being better connected?
  • Has a PMC order been made?
  • Is the child in foster care, or with a relative who cannot provide permanency?
  • Is the child placed far away from family and/or not placed with siblings?
  • Are there are no strong permanency options for this child?
  • Does the relative/caregiver lack support to help care for the child?
  • Is there family to engage at this point?
  • Will we be successful in engaging family to come to meetings and participate in the process?
  • Can/should family/fictive kin be involved in the planning and decision making process?
Any questions feel free to email Anna McDonnell, CFE Coach at

The Volunteer Council Corner
By Susan Olver
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The CASA Volunteer Council is planning an Advocate Gathering for September 14th! Please watch your email for more information. This is both a time to get to know fellow Advocates and also earn two hours of our required continuing education credits. This event will take place in the morning, with our next gathering in November being held in the evening.
If you’re interested in helping the Volunteer Council with events throughout the year, please contact Susan Olver at

September In-Service Opportunities
By Wanda Smith
Please mark your calendar for the following in-services:
September 13 from 11:30am – 1:30pm at TETRA Technologies: Adoption/Kinship Benefits presented by Marcella Herrera, Adoption Supervisor and Leslie Bloom, Kinship Supervisor. They will discuss benefits available to adoptive parents and kinship relatives. 

September 29 from 1pm – 4pm – Location TBD: LGBT: “Providing Services to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Youth in Care”**. Michael Mugura – senior trainer with Envolve PeopleCare will review basic terminology for discussing issues around sexual orientation and gender identity in a sensitive manner. It discusses the process that LGBT youth go through as they come to terms with their sexual orientation or gender identity in the context of a world that is not always welcoming. The training also presents some ideas on how to apply the Child Welfare League of America’s best practices in serving LGBT youth in out of home care.
This training provides you with:
  • Information on how to appropriately discuss sexual orientation and gender identity
  • Insight and understanding regarding the experiences of LGBT youth in general and in foster care
  • Ideas on how to address the needs of LGBT youth in care
**This training will be mandatory in the training year 2017-2018. If you cannot attend this one, we will have another one in 2018.
Please note that we will provide water and a few light snacks. If you wish to bring your lunch, please feel free to do so.
I will send out the location as soon as I have secured one.
Thank you all for all you do for CASA!

Development in Action: Highlighting Mike & Ally Seder
By Shannon Wilson
CASA Child Advocates of Montgomery County is honored that Mike Seder Re/Max, The Woodlands & Spring has agreed to return as the Champion level sponsor of the 8th Annual CASA SUPERHERO Run. Mike and Ally Seder first sponsored the Run in 2013, and have increased their support over the past 4 years. Including this year’s sponsorship, the Seders have contributed over $28,000 to the event, which has helped CASA provide 18 abused and neglected children with Advocates.
“We are happy to give back to our community. We just want to help those who are less fortunate than we are. When we met Gus [Nodwell, former CASA Superhero Run Race Director] and he told us about CASA, we knew we had to get involved,” Ally said.
Even though our hearts are breaking with the recent floods caused by Hurricane Harvey, the needs of our CASA kids remain the same. The CASA Superhero Run will help raise the funds CASA needs to recruit and train Advocates as children continue to come into foster care in our county at a rate 40% higher than that of this time last year. If you know anyone who might be looking for a sponsorship opportunity or a way to get involved like the Seders, have them contact Shannon Wilson at
With gratitude,
Development Director
(281) 770-5199

The Story of the White Bears 
By Vicki Bradley
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Have you noticed the White Bears in the Toy Room and in the basket by the Bookshelves? These bears were specially made for children in need by the First Christian Church in Conroe. According to the man who delivers the bears to CASA, they are also delivered to other agencies who help children and to local ambulance drivers.
Have you noticed that the bears are in plastic bags? The White Bears are great for infants and allergic kids. The bears have been sanitized by placing them in a clothes dryer for thirty minutes. No dryer sheets were used.
The White Bears are also great as Autograph Bears and Drawing Bears! Perhaps you could write your name on a bear to remind your CASA Kid that you care. Kids of any age can draw on the bears to express their creativity.

Upcoming Events
13  **NOTE DATE CHANGE** IN-SERVICE: Adoption/Kinship Benefits, TETRA Technologies from 11:30am-1:30 pm
13  Conversations with CASA (evening event): The Refuge Bar & Bistro from 5:00-7:00 pm
14  Advocate Gathering hosted by the CASA Volunteer Council: At the home of Susan Olver (email to follow with address) - 9:30: Refreshements; 10:00: Discussion Begins
20  Conversations with CASA (morning event): La Madeleine Country French Café from 9:00-11:00 am
29  IN-SERVICE: LGBT-Providing Services to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth in Care, Location TBA from 1:00-4:00 pm
7  New Advocate Training Class Begins (Nights)
11  Conversations with CASA (evening event): The Refuge Bar & Bistro from 5:00-7:00 pm
16  New Advocate Swearing In & Celebration: 9:00 am
18  Conversations with CASA (morning event): La Madeleine Country French Café from 9:00-11:00 am
19-21  Texas CASA Conference: Galveston Island Convention Center
26 & 27  2017 CASA Superhero Run Packet Pick-up: Location & Hours TBD
28  8th Annual CASA Superhero Run:  Start/Finish at The Woodlands Christian Academy with race courses through W.G. Jones State Forest.  Race Day Registration opens at 7:00 am; Races begin at 8:00 am.
4  Celebrate ME: The Woodlands United Methodist Church
8  Conversations with CASA (evening event): The Refuge Bar & Bistro from 5:00-7:00 pm
15  Conversations with CASA (morning event): La Madeleine Country French Café from 9:00-11:00 am
28 New Advocate Training Class Begins (Tuesdays & Thursdays)
9  Barnes & Noble Book Fair Benefiting CASA! Visit Barnes & Noble at The Woodlands Mall, shop for holiday gifts, and give back to CASA. (Online shopping/giving available for next 5 days: Dec. 9-14) More info to come...
11  New Advocate Swearing In & Celebration: 9:00 am
10  Conversations with CASA (evening event): The Refuge Bar & Bistro from 5:00-7:00 pm
17  Conversations with CASA (morning event): La Madeleine Country French Café from 9:00-11:00 am
10  2018 CASA Speaks for Kids Gala – “Enchanted: A Masquerade Ball” at The Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel & Convention Center from 6:00 pm - Midnight
14  Conversations with CASA (evening event): The Refuge Bar & Bistro from 5:00-7:00 pm
21  Conversations with CASA (morning event): La Madeleine Country French Café from 9:00-11:00 am
Meet Shellie!
Shellie Tyrell joined the CASA team in August 2017 as Recruiting Manager. Shellie has a Masters of Public Health from the University of Texas and a Masters of Social Work from the University of Michigan. She has over 25 years of experience in public health research and education, all focusing on women and children’s health and empowerment. Shellie became an Advocate for CASA in 2016 and, after realizing the incredible difference Advocates make in the lives of Montgomery County children, she joined the staff as a recruiter. She enjoys riding this incredible adventure of life with her husband and daughter. 
Celebrating Advocate Anniversaries
By Pat Creighton
13 Years
Faye Batt - Amazing and never without a case!
10 Years
Donna Pershall – We lost Donna this past month, but we will never forget her amazing spirit and dedication to her CASA children.
6 Years
Kim VestGreat Advocate and now a great Supervisor
2 Years
David Catino
Jeanie Catino
Bella Cruz
Joe Gibson
Vicki Hewitt
Tammy Marsh
1 Year
Sarah Becker
Lynn Dusesoi
Yolanda Gavin
Jennifer Hackman
Allison Hembree
Mickey Jo Lawrence
Troy O’Callaghan
Patricia Quintanilla
Charlotte Vanheusden
Susan Wertanen
11 Years – Most Amazing Class!
Rosemary Bundscho
Denise Inman
Julie Krenz
Patty Spahr
Wanda Smith – Advocate, Supervisor, and brilliant Training Director!
7 Years
Cynthia Garza
5 Years
David Birge
Cynthia Mandel
Anna McDonnell
Karen Stinson
Debbie Stuard
4 Years
Art Castro
Kelley Bond
Brenda Getty
Karen Gordon
Robyn Hass
Ron Rush
Carol Seltz
Tammy Sisson
Katie Stavinoha
Alli Stephens
3 Years
Pamela Fairchild
LeHenry Givens
Melinda Lehmann
2 Years
Nina Blanco Whitehead
Steve French
Shawn Grainger
Mika Lawson

By Fawn Dennis
Celebrate ME is Saturday, November 4th at The Woodlands United Methodist Church. Celebrate ME is a daylong event filled with fun, learning, encouragement, and hope for our teens in foster care. This year, CASA is responsible for the Library. The Library is designed for teens to come and go, browse a selection of books, and choose one to take with them. Over 200 teens will be at this event, and we would like to have as many books as possible at ANY reading level. Please bring any books you might like to donate to the CASA office.
Your CASA Team
Executive Director

Development Director
Marketing & Communications Director
Program Director
Recruiting Manager
Training Director
Case Supervisors:
Administrative Coordinator 
Database Administrator 
Special Projects Manager 
Staff Support Specialist 
Calling all SUPERHEROES!
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5K & 10K Trail Run
1K Fun Run
Saturday, October 28, 2017

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23rd Annual
CASA Speaks for Kids Gala
Saturday, February 10, 2018


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Address postal inquiries to:
CASA Child Advocates of Montgomery County
412 West Phillips Ste. 107
Conroe, TX 77301