We are excited to host our 30th Anniversary Birthday Celebration in person at this year’s Gala on May 8 at the Sugar Land Marriott. We have so much to celebrate and are looking forward to seeing everyone so we can together toast serving over 19,000 children over the past three decades. Who could have imagined 30 years ago that we would have grown from serving one child with a handful of volunteers to now operating two nationally accredited programs in CASA and our Children’s Advocacy Center and providing a comprehensive continuum-of-care? Our beautiful campus with our new 28,000 square foot CASA, Administration and Children’s Advocacy Center buildings and the co-housing onsite of a multi-disciplinary team of partners from the Ft Bend County Sheriff’s Office, District Attorney’s Office, County Attorney’s Office and DFPS offers a safe place for children to tell their stories, healing to recover from abuse, and education so that we are trained in trauma-care and best practices, all in a nature-themed space with outdoor courtyards and a butterfly garden. The number of lives transformed speaks to the dedication and commitment of our volunteers, board, staff and partners to ensure that no child falls through the cracks. You have been with us every step of the way along this long and sometimes winding road. You have dedicated over 300,000 volunteer hours and driven over 100,000 miles to visit children! We have laughed together, shed tears of joy and heartache, cheered our high school graduates, held the hands of mothers in grief learning of their child’s abuse, sat alongside children in court as they prepare to testify, and eaten pizza and cake as children complete their therapy and are prepared to move beyond their abuse. Thank you for everything you do and having such a profound impact on the lives of child victims. Please join us to celebrate 30 years of ending the cycle of abuse and neglect for these children and for the thousands more children we will help in the future.
For the Children’s Sake,
CEO, Child Advocates of Fort Bend
Celebrating Our Volunteers!
Volunteers are the lifeblood of this agency. We could not even begin to do the work that we’ve done these past 30 years without all of our wonderful volunteers and we definitely wouldn’t have made it through the last year, without them! Volunteers have found new ways of visiting children, attending court, maintaining training requirements, communicating child abuse awareness presentations, and conducting Voices for Children tours. Children’s Advocacy Center volunteers implemented new safety protocols with temperature checking, mask wearing and new waiting room and scheduling standards. Many volunteers also stepped up with financial support.
On Thursday, April 22nd, we held our first virtual Volunteer Appreciation Celebration to honor all of our volunteers for their efforts in 2020 and recognize a few for their extraordinary support. Alexis Jackson was named Child Advocate of the Year. Mary Koehler was named CAC Volunteer of the Year and Jill Thaxton was named CASA Volunteer of the Year. Dr. Charles Dupre was named Children’s Hero and Roy Cordes was recognized as Lifetime Hero. See who else we recognized and why https://www.cafb.org/events/volunteer-banquet/.
We are so grateful for all of our volunteers, without whom we could not do the work that we do – you are all winners in our book!
Thank You Orsted and the Old 300 Solar Center for Your Generous Support!
We were thrilled to have Tatiana Stein, Project Development Manager for the Old 300 Solar Center Project visit our Davis George Campus recently. It was exciting to share with her the impact her company is making for children in Fort Bend County. Ruthanne and Dana also enjoyed learning more in depth about the project itself as well as the many benefits it brings to Fort Bend County.
Welcome to Fort Bend County and to the Child Advocates of Fort Bend family!
Thank You Colony Meadows Elementary Teachers
FBISD Colony Meadows Elementary teachers donated approximately 80 toys to the children we serve. Teacher Marissa Hackett (left) delivered the toys. Shown with her are CAC Volunteer Charles McGuire and staff member Deborah Spencer.
Thank you Colony Meadows Elementary for your generosity!
Legos and Life Messages
The Tompkins High School Robotics Team – The Steel Talons – recently donated LEGO kits for the children we serve. Kits were put together and their packaging customized with inspirational messages. A heartfelt thanks to this amazing group of high school students! And a big CONGRATULATIONS to this group for being recognized as our 2020 Community Partner of the Year recently at our Volunteer Celebration. Pictured is Kuhuk Kapoor, VP of Partnerships.
Care for Caregivers
Special thanks to our friends at Care for Caregivers for thinking of us! Rachel Garza and Amy Davis from “Care for Caregivers – Fort Bend County” donated 20 boxes of Girl Scout Cookies to our CAFB staff.
FBJSL March Madness
Fort Bend Junior Service League member Kimberly Jarrell and her son stopped by recently with a donation from FBJSL’s March Madness donation drive. Thank you to our friends at FBJSL for always thinking of us and for ALL of your support!
Be a VOICES FOR CHILDREN Ambassador
Ambassadors are short term volunteers who introduce new people to Child Advocates of Fort Bend by inviting guests to a tour of our agency and learn about the work we do. Tours are currently held via ZOOM which has helped us build awareness to those who are near and far! Tours last approximately 30 minutes and your guests will leave with an understanding about the epidemic of child abuse and how they, too, might become further involved to help end this tragedy.
Please consider being an Ambassador – we need YOU! Call or email Dana Mersiovsky at 281.344.7253 or email@example.com, to learn more.
Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC)
The Children’s Advocacy Center has two openings for Clinical Family Advocates. We are looking for qualified individuals to join the CAC team. Candidates must be licensed with a Masters in Social Work. The Clinical Family Advocates provide crisis intervention services to parents whose children are receiving forensic interviews at the CAC. These brief therapeutic intervention services are a critical first step to helping the children and families heal from their abuse experiences. They work closely with the multi-disciplinary team to help ensure the needs of the families are being met. Please go to www.cafb.org to view the job posting.
Congratulations to Therapist Kandece Money who received her LPC License. If you see her, make sure to congratulate her.
Court Appointed Special Advocates Program (CASA) and Community Engagement
Our CASA team has had a busy month. Volunteers have been busy advocating for children’s needs and testifying in court (virtually). The WINGS team has mailed out their Quarterly Box and the focus this month is setting goals and future planning. Our NEST and WINGS teams are planning their summer programs and will decide later this month if those will be in-person or virtual.
The CASA program has been featured in the TX CASA Voice on two occasions this month highlighting the NEST, WINGS, and Trauma Informed Care programs. We were also featured in the Fort Bend Herald for our innovative work. See links below.
Between hosting our Light of Hope Drive Thru Celebration at the Historic Courthouse in Richmond, a Trauma Informed Care Conference and our Virtual Volunteer Celebration, the Community Engagement Team has had an extremely busy April.
On April 1st, CAFB and Exchange Club of Fort Bend kicked off April Child Abuse Prevention Month with an in-person Light of Hope Celebration. Guests gathered outside near the awareness field in front of the Historic Courthouse in Richmond. Exchange Club of Fort Bend President Kelli Metzenthin welcomed everyone, Child Advocates of Fort Bend CEO Ruthanne Mefford shared the story of the blue ribbon and Judge KP George read a proclamation to kick of the event. There was a drive-thru celebration following, allowing guests to drive by to pick up t-shirts, pinwheels, awareness materials and cupcakes. A special thank you to H-E-B Richmond Market for donating the tasty treats for this event!
On April 13th, the Community Engagement Team hosted a Trauma Informed Care Conference with a fantastic lineup of speakers and topics, including a former youth served by our agency. More than 150 people participated.
On Thursday, April 22nd, we hosted our first ever virtual Volunteer Appreciation Celebration. (See story above.) We are so grateful for all of our volunteers!
Life-Long Connections are Helping Children in Foster Care
Child Advocates of Fort Bend is dedicated in serving children in Fort Bend and surrounding counties. One way we achieve this is through collaboration. This story is about one special child with one special wish, braces. Our Development and CASA teams were discussing a 14-year-old foster child’s wish for braces. She has been asking for them for over three years. She visited the dentist who recommended braces, but Medicaid denied it. Development and CASA quickly brainstormed their resources and thinking outside the box, Dana Mersiovsky reached out to a friend who lives in North Texas and has children who had braces. Dana’s friend spoke to her children’s orthodontist and he recommended an orthodontist who was closer to our CAFB child’s location that he thought would help. The CASA Guardian ad Litem immediately reached out to Dr. Les Starnes’ office. The office manager listened to CASA and asked to call her back. Five minutes later the office manager called and said they would do it! They would do it under one condition, she has to promise to brush her teeth every day and take really good care of her braces. CASA shrieked in excitement and said absolutely! After sharing the details with Dr. Starnes’ office manager, she said, “Oh my goodness, we saw this young lady last week. We have her records and the recommendation for braces. That means she can be fitted for braces right away, how does next Wednesday work?” Unbelievable! She was fitted and received her braces a week later. This orthodontist made a three-year wish come true. Child Advocates of Fort Bend is so grateful for his dedication to his community. Thank you so much Dr. Les Starnes!
Infant & Toddler Monthly Open-Door Topic Talk
The Infant and Toddler Team is hosting monthly Open-Door meetings to give advocates assigned to infant and toddler cases an opportunity to drop in, ask questions, staff cases, or just say hi to fellow advocates. May’s Topic Talk Let’s Talk – Volunteer’s Choice is scheduled for May 3 from noon to 1:00.
For details or to participate, contact Renee Lukefahr at RLukefahr@cafb.org or Carol Thesing at CThesing@cafb.org.
LAT Champions NEEDED!
Call to Action!
This legislative session is heating up with important legislation related to our state’s most vulnerable youth. The Legislative Advocacy Team (LAT) needs your help in letting our representatives know which bills CASA has identified as being the most impactful for children in foster care.
By becoming a LAT Champion, you will receive notifications when bills are in critical stages with a request for you to help. The LAT will send you a Bill Alert with a sample letter you can copy and forward to your Representative or Senator within 24 hours. You may research the issue and write your own email also. Receiving letters from constituents lets our elected officials know which issues are important to us and which bills, out of many, will best serve our youth. The task is not cumbersome. This past legislative session there were 14 Bill Alerts. To become a LAT Champion of Fort Bend, contact Rhonda Kuykendall, chairwoman of Child Advocates of Fort Bend LAT.
Contact Rhonda Kuykendall at firstname.lastname@example.org
Like LAT Champions of Fort Bend on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/latchampions
Find out who your Representative and Senator are: https://wrm.capitol.texas.gov/home
30th Birthday Gala Celebration!
Saturday, May 8, 2021
at the Sugar Land Marriott Town Square
Emcee: Michele Fisher
Auctioneer: Johnny (Bravo) Holloway
Are you ready to celebrate with us at a live event? We are gearing up for an amazing evening! Reserve your seat now to help us celebrate 30 years of making a difference for children in style with a live band, delicious dinner, incredible silent and live auctions, raffle, our popular wine and gift card pulls AND success stories over the years.
We will have safety protocols in place and will have tables for 8 (instead of 10), with extra space between, to allow for social distancing. Masks are required except when eating and drinking.
Sponsorships and seats are still available. Contact Tarina Sheridan at TSheridan@cafb.org or go to https://www.cafb.org/events/gala/ to reserve yours today.
Watch our social media for a sneak peek at our auction.
Want to help us? We are still accepting donations of wine and gift cards for our wine and gift card pulls.
Register today to participate in our auction: Text CAFB30 to 76278.
Questions? Contact Tarina at TSheridan@cafb.org.
Mark your calendars!
May 3, 2021 Infant & Toddler Open Door
Noon – 1pm
To participate or for details contact Carol Thesing at CThesing@cafb.org
May 4, 2021 Voices for Children Tour
Contact Dana Mersiovsky at DMersiovsky@cafb.org for link.
May 6, 2021 Volunteer Check in and Chat with Jennifer Brown
Contact Jennifer Brown at JBrown@cafb.org for link.