Mar 06 2014
By Qunisha Simmons
I recently had the opportunity to participate in the Central Texas African American Family Support Conference. Attendance was diverse for this event with representation from many different members of our community. The conference shared valuable resources and featured powerful and inspirational living testimonials by resilient members of our society who had lives wrapped in traumatic experiences. The service provider’s exhibits were intriguing and really were focused on dealing with self-care, mental health, healthcare and other issues families face while striving to be self-sufficient. There were lots of handouts, freebies and representatives from various agencies providing descriptions of their agencies, what they offered and how we could help the members of our community. Read more
Feb 25 2014
By Callie Langford, Originally published in TODO Austin Magazine
Elizabeth Guleke may have one of the most fun jobs in Austin. She’s the owner of Sno-Beach Austin, where worked all through high school and summers during college before buying the business from the previous owners. Elizabeth was born and raised in Austin and is happy to now be a business owner here with the loyal Austin community.
Prior to becoming a sno-cone professional, Elizabeth got her bachelor’s degree in Polymer and Textile Chemistry from Clemson University. When not working, Elizabeth loves being outdoors and especially spending time at the park with her dog, an English Mastiff that weighs 140 pounds. Read more
Feb 13 2014
By A.J. Barak
Youth in foster care who have healthy connections to family are more likely to thrive in any environment. Through a grant from the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, CASA of Travis County has created a staff position and volunteer opportunity with the sole purpose of finding family for Travis County children in foster care. The new position of Family Finding Specialist will develop, train and support experienced volunteers to locate and connect youth with family and supportive adults. Anjuli (A.J.) Barak, a current staff member at CASA of Travis County, has moved to the Family Finding Specialist position after serving as a Child Advocacy Specialist and Transitioning Youth Specialist for the past three years at CASA of Travis County.
My name is A.J. Barak and, as a Texas native and native Austinite, I have had the fortune of being raised and supported by my community and extended family, through good times and bad, right here in Central Texas. I was drawn to a career in child advocacy with CASA of Travis County because I believe in the impact that community volunteers can have on struggling families and children caught up in the many cycles of disparity for which they have no control. My path has always been underscored by a passion for seeking out the most accurate and objective information regarding the circumstances surrounding a family involved with CPS. After all, good decisions can only be made with accurate and up-to-date information, right? Read more
Feb 10 2014
By Callie Langford
My favorite thing about CASA is how it is completely powered by our fantastic Austin community. We would not exist were it not for the 593 volunteers who decided to give precious pieces of their time to help children last year, or the hundreds of generous donors who shared their funds to ensure children get the advocacy and support they desperately need.
So when looking at the record-breaking numbers from 2013, I have to say thank you. To all of you. You made great things happen for 1,605 children who had CASA on their side last year. You volunteered, donated, shared the CASA story, and did a whole lot of awesome things to make the lives of children in Austin better. Read more
Feb 06 2014
We celebrated the swearing-in of 35 CASA volunteers this week. This was a wonderful sign in the midst of record numbers of appointments to new children coming into the care of Child Protective Services. Before getting to know our newest volunteers, Judge Darlene Byrne shared her perspective on what makes CASA volunteers great:
I was just talking with a bunch of our judges. We’re in the process of hiring another associate judge and we were discussing the ideal characteristics for a judge in this court.
My favorite answer?
“They need to love children and families. They need to have a passion for children and families.”