We have kicked off our Fall activities at Child Advocates of Fort Bend with a busy calendar of events. On September 23, we hosted our 11th annual Voices for Children Transforming Lives Breakfast to a ballroom of 225 guests who were moved by the emotional story of a little boy who came into care due to severe physical abuse. He was developmentally delayed and barely able to read at age 10. His challenging journey of starvation and abuse culminated in a very happy ending when he was adopted by a loving family in Michigan, and he is now an Honor Roll student and thriving. The morning closed with a beautiful story of the adoption of a little girl named Everly who has found her forever family and is now living Happily Everly After. In September, we hosted a new class of 18 volunteers who are being trained to be CASA Advocates or CAC Volunteers with a hybrid online/classroom pre-service training class. With school back in session, the return to the classroom means that more children are being identified and more reports of abuse filed. In response, our school presentations are back in gear with in-person prevention and safety messages as well as new social media public service announcements. We welcomed two new members to our Board of Directors over the past month (meet them below) and are excited for their contributions. Our CAC continues to respond to the surge in reports of sexual abuse and severe physical abuse resulting in a 35% increase year to date in the number of children and families we have served through forensic interviews, clinical family advocacy, criminal court advocacy and therapy.
To accommodate a need for more space, we have added more capacity by building a Multi-Function Building and Pavilion in our rear parking lot which is nearing completion. This extra space will house Treasure Room items for the children, event décor, building supplies as well as provide indoor and covered outdoor programming space to host outdoor events, toy distributions and incentive parties for the children and families. Finally, our 30th Annual Christmas Home Tour is only 2 months away and we are in full planning mode to bring you four beautifully decorated homes throughout Fort Bend County. The Home Tour Committee is scheduling host/hostess shifts already so if you’re interested in volunteering a few hours on December 10 or 11, let us know. If you wish to sponsor the Christmas Home Tour or purchase tickets for the tour or the wreath raffle, visit our website. Hope to see you there!
Thank you to all our volunteers, donors and board members for all you do to support children in our community who have been abused and neglected. We could not do this important work without you.
For the Children’s Sake,
CEO, Child Advocates of Fort Bend
VOICES FOR CHILDREN Transforming Lives Breakfast Update
Our 11th Annual VOICES FOR CHILDREN Transforming Lives Breakfast was a truly inspiring morning. We laughed at the animated singing of the children’s choir, cried as we heard stories of two children who were abused and who both found their forever homes, and our hearts were moved with an outpouring of support by our generous donors. It was a special morning and capped off months of planning by Dana Mersiovsky, Development Officer, our Development team and all the staff here at CAFB.
Special thanks to our Presenting Sponsor Exchange Club of Missouri City, Sponsors OCuSOFT, Inc., Smart Financial Foundation and St. Laurence Social Concerns Ministry, Ken Kosub-Limelight Films and everyone who participated in our video! Additional thanks to Nancy Olson, Dr. Betty Baitland, Matthew Martin, Quentin Bury, Jennifer Bury, Todd Bury and the entire Bury Family, Trudy Dick, Imperial Linen Service Inc., H-E-B Richmond Market, Phoenix Design Group, Claudia Sorto, Sydney Sorto, Barbara Waldhuber – Elementary Minister at Sugar Creek Baptist Church, Emily Reader and the Scanlan Oaks Elementary School Choir – Page to Stage!
We are grateful to our VOICES FOR CHILDREN donors – new and existing and the impact your sustaining support makes throughout each year.
If you are interested in joining our VOICES FOR CHILDEN Circle, please contact Dana Mersiovsky at firstname.lastname@example.org or 281.344.5106.
State Farm Neighborhood Assist® National Grant Program – VOTING Campaign Results!
Thank you to everyone who participated in our voting campaign for a chance to win a $25,000 grant from State Farm. Your time to click, share, send reminders and join us in a fun and worthy cause is most appreciated.
This grant was a national voting campaign where Child Advocates of Fort Bend placed among 200 finalists out of 2,000 entries (selected by State Farm from thousands in the first round). That ranking alone is an accomplishment.
We were not a grant recipient this time around so we will be back next year – stay tuned!
Without loyal supporters, volunteers, sponsors, community members, friends and employees like you who share our mission, we could not provide the life-transforming services to thousands of vulnerable and abused children who need us. Thank you again and again for all you do to help Child Advocates of Fort Bend.
Child Advocates of Fort Bend is registered for AmazonSmile. This is a program through Amazon.com that will donate 0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to Ft Bend County Child Advocates, Inc. To shop via AmazonSmile, go to http://smile.amazon.com/ch/76-0337426.
Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC)
With children back in school and getting more comfortable in the classroom, we expected to see an increase in the need for our services and this is exactly what we are now seeing. We’ve had a 35% increase year to date in the number of children and families we have served through forensic interviews, clinical family advocacy, criminal court advocacy and therapy. Our Criminal Court Advocates are extremely busy. Courts are up and running and dockets are full. Special thanks to former staff member Fran Clark for joining Criminal Court Advocate Renee Johnson in court recently to help support one of the children we serve during a criminal trial. Congratulations to the DA’s office on getting a murder conviction on the child’s father who received a life sentence.
Court Appointed Special Advocates Program (CASA)
Fall is a busy time around our office and October is shaping up to be an extremely busy month. Eighteen volunteers started in person training in our office at the end of September and will complete their training on October 20th. Community Engagement is busy working on this year’s virtual Human Trafficking conference featuring speakers from the Fort Bend County District Attorney’s Office, CAFB’s Children’s Advocacy Center, CPS and Unbound Houston. (see details under save the dates below and don’t forget to register to join us!) Community Engagement has several trainings, presentations and speaking engagements scheduled this month including TBRI® training to faculty and staff at Hubenak Elementary School in LCISD, Darkness to Light’s Stewards of Children® training at our office that is open to the public (see details under save the dates), and a social media safety presentation to Bowie Elementary.
We believe educating adults and children is the first step to preventing child abuse and neglect. We have several presentations to address topics parents and youth serving organizations are concerned about such as child sexual abuse prevention, internet and social media safety, and creating a safe environment for youth activities such as scouts, organized sports and youth groups. Our presentations are for adults and children K-12 and use the latest evidence informed curriculum. For more information or to schedule a speaker today contact Lindsey Castellanos at LCastellanos@cafb.org or fill out a speaker request form https://www.cafb.org/programs/community-education/speaker-requests/
Dynamic Duo – CASA Advocates Sue Crookson and Karen Beham
CASA case closes after 12 years
Twelve years ago, Sue Crookson and Karen Beham were assigned to the case of a 7-year-old boy who was neglected by his mother. He was diagnosed with Angelman’s Syndrome and had many other medical conditions. Karen and Sue were the constants on the case from the day they were appointed in 2009. At one point, Karen moved out of the country for two years. When she came back, she asked to be reassigned to the case. Sue moved to Canada for about 6 months but came back once a month to visit the young boy. These ladies are a dynamic duo. They have given their all to fight huge battles to ensure that all of this child’s needs were met. He was placed in multiple foster homes or residential treatment facilities that were not suited for him (or any other child) and Karen and Sue fought to have him moved to better places. They called all over the world on several occasions to get new wheelchairs and hospital beds for him when Medicaid wouldn’t cover the cost. They visited him all over the state of Texas including Lindale, Center, and Port Arthur. They were present for every hospital stay, including one where he was near death. Despite feeling defeated on many occasions, they never gave up. It is because of their advocacy that he is in his current placement.
Despite a rocky start with the biological mother who was unable to care for him, they were willing to meet the mom where she was and understand the value she could provide for this child. Over time, they connected with mom to bring her back into the youth’s life, not as his caregiver, but as a supportive adult. He is now with a loving foster parent who has become his permanent guardian, and his mother and sisters are back in his life with the help of the Collaborative Family Engagement process. His new family and his family of origin are working together to meet his needs. This is the very best outcome we could have imagined for this child. He is healthy, thriving, and loved by both his families. Thank you to these two very dedicated advocates for their diligence and perseverance.
Marva O’Neal Deidra Lyon’s-Lewis
Advocating for Foster Youth in School
Special thanks to Marva O’Neal, Director of Federal Programs with Lamar CISD and Deidra Lyon’s-Lewis, Executive Director of Secondary Schools for Fort Bend ISD and current CASA Advocate, for their phenomenal presentation on Advocating for Foster Youth in School. More than 70 attendees participated in this training in September and received a plethora of information and resources. Missed it but want to learn more? Contact April Shaver at AShaver@cafb.org.
Transitions – Hellos and Goodbyes
Fall is a season of transitions, and we have some here at the office as well. In September, we welcomed two new board members – Carrie Fix and Matthew Martin, both of whom are familiar faces around our office. Carrie is a former teacher with a passion for helping children who came to us more than eight years ago and has been very involved since she arrived. She has served as a CASA Advocate for our agency since 2013, advocating for 11 children in five different cases. She worked on staff as a Courtesy CASA for CAFB/Texas CASA from 2017 to 2018 visiting children in West Texas and the Gulf Coast regions, In addition, she has helped in our Children’s Advocacy Center, worked on the silent auction for our GALA and helped with other special projects. She is on the CASA Advisory Council and has been on the Volunteer Council for many years, currently serves as its Chair. She was also honored as Child Advocate of the Year in 2017.
Matthew Martin is an oil and gas professional who currently serves as Director of Sales for Eagle Pipe and Eagle Distribution. Matthew and his family adopted their niece at our 2018 National Adoption Day celebration and soon thereafter decided to hold a fundraiser to raise money for child adoption causes. Their Pecan Grove Turkey Trot was a huge success, leading them to form their own charitable foundation – The Thankful Ones. They toured our facility, met our staff and selected us as the beneficiary of their annual event. Matthew has been a fixture at our National Adoption Day Celebrations since and our team has participated in (and benefitted from) their Turkey Trot! We are absolutely thrilled to have both Carrie and Matthew as a part of our Board!
With mixed emotions, we announce the departure of our “Mr. CASA,” Leroy Hodge. Leroy has decided his time with Child Advocates of Fort Bend has come to an end. While we are sad to see Leroy leave, we are happy to see him move forward to pursue his future goals. Leroy has had a tremendous impact in the lives of hundreds of children and families he has served over the last 16 years. He has also been an instrumental force in the lives of his work family, partner agencies, and the Fort Bend community. Leroy ended his journey with Child Advocates of Fort Bend in mid- September. We thank him for his service and miss him greatly but wish him well in his new beginnings.
Our team is growing, and we have some new opportunities. If you think you have what it takes (or you know someone who does), we’d love to have you join our team! Check out our current openings at https://www.cafb.org/about/career-opportunities/.
CAFB Volunteer Handyperson Needed
We are looking for a volunteer who has a few hours a week to help out at our building with general maintenance. If you can spare some time and are “handy” with tools and fixing things around your house, we’d love to talk to you!
For more information or to volunteer, contact Cathy Zapalac at CZapalac@cafb.org.
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. The Topic Talk Court Reports is scheduled for October 4 from noon to 1:00. We’ll talk about court reports as well as any other questions or concerns you may have. It’s a great way to connect and share with other volunteers.
For details or to participate, contact Renee Lukefahr at RLukefahr@cafb.org or Carol Thesing at CThesing@cafb.org.
Crime Victim’s Response Team Presents the 19th Annual Fort Bend County DA Fun Run
Lace up those running shoes, gather your friends and family and join us at the Fort Bend County Justice Center on October 23 at 8am and run for a safer Fort Bend! We are one of the beneficiaries of this run that supports victims of violent crime. Participants will receive a t-shirt and a swag bag.
FRIENDS Tea & Crumpets
FRIENDS of Child Advocates of Fort Bend invites you to put on your hat & gloves and join us for our annual membership event – Tea & Crumpets on Friday, October 15 at the CAFB office. For more information or to RSVP contact Pat Somers at email@example.com.
30th Annual Christmas Home Tour
The Christmas Home Tour is scheduled for December 10th and 11th. The two-day Home Tour hosts visitors from all over Fort Bend County and surrounding areas. Over 2,000 guests will tour the homes, including the 800 volunteers who help make this event successful. We are so excited to be including four amazing homes for our in-person event this year! This year’s homes are in Sienna, Sweetwater, First Colony and, for the first time, in Hillcrest Estates in Richmond.
WE NEED YOUR HELP!
- Please grab your friends and be a host for a 2-hour shift at one of the homes
- Share your baking skills with your special homemade cookies
- Entertain us with your musical talent as a performer in one of the homes
- Decorate and donate a wreath for our 8th annual Wreath Raffle!
For information on Volunteering, Sponsorships, Tickets or Donations check out our website at https://www.cafb.org/events/home-tour-2/ or contact Tarina Sheridan at TSheridan@cafb.org today!
Mark your calendars!
October 15, 2021 FRIENDS Tea & Crumpets
1pm – 3pm
Contact Pat Somers at firstname.lastname@example.org to RSVP or for more information.
October 19, 2021 Children + Sex Trafficking Conference
9am – 2pm
Conference speakers include Fort Bend County District Attorney’s Office, CAFB’s Children’s Advocacy Center, CPS and Unbound Houston. Registration is required
To register go to https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_4BAms9IzT4yFlz1qJppUNA?_x_zm_rtaid=0mtH2xKIRdippkK5SzJj0A.1632344519681.661aa32f77a7a3012dca0d989496b48a&_x_zm_rhtaid=765
October 21, 2021 Darkness to Light’s Stewards of Children® Training
6pm – 8pm
Open to the public but limited to 25 people. This training is intended for parents or caregivers or other members of the community who have an interest in prevention of child sexual abuse. Stewards of Children® is the only evidence-informed, adult-focused child sexual abuse prevention training in the United States proven to increase knowledge and change behavior. Numerous studies have shown that Darkness to Light’s prevention education works and evidence-informed training can change child protective behaviors.
Registration is required. To register go to https://www.eventbrite.com/e/stewards-of-children-training-tickets-176376977287
October 26, 2021 Summer Sip & Stroll
5:30 – 6:30
Join us for light bite, a sip of wine and a tour through our Davis George Campus. Meet our staff, hear the stories of the children we serve and learn more about the work that we do.
To RSVP or for more information contact Dana Mersiovsky at DMersiovsky@cafb.org or 281-344-7253.
December 10 + 11 Christmas Home Tour
Friday 10am – 4pm + 6pm – 9pm
Saturday 10am – 4pm
To sponsor, volunteer or for more information contact Tarina Sheridan at TSheridan@cafb.org.