By CHRIS AGEE
Though the position has existed less than four months, one local agency credits its new recruiter-trainer for a marked increase in new volunteers.
Trisha Duke was selected to fill the newly created position within Court Appointed Special Advocates of Palo Pinto and Parker Counties at the beginning of the year. She has since facilitated the addition of 14 advocates to the program which helps abused children navigate the judicial system.
Among her responsibilities is increasing awareness of the program, which Duke said includes constant communication with community leaders and groups.
"Coming to mind are the presentations I've given at Azle Retired Teachers Organizations, Messiah Lutheran Church, the Retired Military Wives Association and a radio interview on QXFM," she said.
Funded through a Meadows Foundation grant, the new position was created in part to attract potential advocates and also to ensure the volunteers received proper training before taking on cases.
Following 30 hours of training, new volunteers are sworn in by a local judge to advocate for the child's best interests until the case is closed.
CASA Executive Director Barbara Tucker noted a child's advocate is often the only constant in his or her life during the ordeal of a trial.
"We are so thankful to have received the grant funds from the Meadows Foundation which support the new position," Tucker said.
"This was a great need for our organization because as the number of abused and neglected children continues to grow in our counties, so does the need for volunteers to serve these children."
The Meadows Foundation, she explained, assists groups and individuals across the state dedicated to improving the quality and circumstances of life for current and future generations.
Duke said she continues to further her own education as a trainer, explaining she recently completed a training event in Austin.
"At this [Training of the Facilitators] training I learned a variety of methods for training volunteers, such as having activities and doing role playing," she said. "This keeps the training fun and informative. I also came back with some new ideas for presenting case studies and giving the volunteers-in-training more hands-on experience."
She said she is glad to have the opportunity to spread the word about CASA and is more than pleased with the quality of volunteers with whom she has worked so far.
"We have outstanding volunteers in our CASA program," she said, "and I am so thrilled with the quality of volunteer advocates that I have had the opportunity to train in these past few months. Everyone that has attended training classes is passionate about the role of a CASA. I know that there are many more people in the community that are just as passionate and I am looking forward to the opportunity to introduce them to CASA."
The next volunteer training class begins May 12. For more information or to schedule an informative presentation, contact Duke at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (817) 599-6224.