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The CASA Program of St. Joseph County

The Advocate

2nd Quarter 2023

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CASA Demographics to date for 2023:

  • Number of Children Served to Date: 529

  • Number of Children on the Waiting List: 69

  • Number of CASA Staff Full-Time: 16

  • Number of CASA Staff Part-Time: 3

  • Number of Active Volunteers to Date: 99

CASA Makes a Difference

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Congratulations Power Saturday CASA Training Graduates!

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Come join us this summer! Sign up for Pre-Service Training and learn what it takes to become an advocate for children in the child welfare system. Make a difference in your community and change the lives of children who need a voice.

To fill out a volunteer application visit:

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Lend your voice Advocate for children
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To sign up for training email or call our Recruiter Trainer Amanda at abuchholz jjconline org 574 245 6735
New Supervisor of Volunteers

Please help us welcome our newest Supervisor of Volunteers, Mike!

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Michael “Mike” Popielski was sworn in as a volunteer on February 16, 2023, and quickly joined the CASA team, on February 27, 2023, as a Supervisor of Volunteers. Mike comes to us with an extensive background in human resource management, where he specialized in employee relations and development. With over twenty years of relationship building experience, Mike has hit the ground running building a rapport with CASA volunteers, families, providers, and DCS partners.

Mike has a Bachelor’s degree in Organizational Leadership and Supervision, from Purdue University; and, a Master’s degree in Human Resource Management, from the University of Scranton. In Mike’s earlier career, he served in various production management and Information Technology roles.

Mike enjoys golfing, boating, karaoke, and trivia. He has a 2-year old German Shepherd (Heidi) who occupies much of his time. Born and raised in South Bend, Indiana, in a family of six children, Mike understands the importance of family and the role his parents, siblings, and extended family played in helping to raise him. Between Mike’s personal and professional experiences, Mike will bring the right combination of talent and heart to his CASA role.

Staff Spotlight:


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How long have you been working for the CASA Program?

1.5 years

Do you have any special skills or knowledge from previous positions at other organizations that can benefit your work at the CASA Program?

I worked as a visit supervisor with two local service providers that gave me a basis for understanding the system the children are in.

What is one thing you want people to know about the CASA Program?

It is a great program that can only benefit the children we work for. To be the child's voice and or support is priceless in the child's eyes.

What is one fun fact about yourself?

I was a CASA volunteer years before I came to work here.

What is a piece of advice you'd give to someone who is considering becoming a CASA volunteer?

To see things from a different perspective, think back to when you were young. Were you a child who could have benefited from an advocate's voice or knew a child that could have? If the answer is yes, then your answer to volunteering should be the same.

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Jenny C. has been working so hard on her case, visiting multiple times a month to check on the progress and well being of her child. Jenny always ensures she is making recommendations based on her child's best interest.

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Cindi F. testified extremely well at her most recent hearing even against a tough cross examination. Afterwards the DCS attorney came up and thanked her for her great testimony!

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Thanks to Walt R. for volunteering to take his CASA child to the ND basketball game. It was no easy task as his CASA child lived over an hour away. Walt volunteered more than four hours of his time to make sure his child felt special and enjoyed the basketball game. This is just one example of the time and energy Walt has put in for this particular child. Walt has not left this child's side in the years he has been on this case! You're a rock star, Walt!

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Margaret L. did an amazing job testifying in a TPR trial and was a fantastic advocate for her kids. You're a terrific CASA, Margaret!

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Jessi C. advocated so well for her kids schooling and got them the help they need. You're amazing, Jessi!

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Julie A. has a tough case that has been ongoing for a while. She has worked hard on this case and been an amazing advocate for her child. Thank you for your hard work and dedication, Julie!

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Keep an eye on our Facebook Page for Volunteer Appreciation Posts throughout the week!

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Join Prevent Child Abuse St. Joseph County at their April Awareness Event Featuring Keynote Speaker Jamole Callahan!

The event is FREE! But space is limited! Register for tickets by scanning the QR code in the infographic to the left.

Below is a video created by Ohio CASA that highlights Jamole s life as a child in foster care

Rachael Denhollander became known internationally in 2016 as the first woman to pursue criminal charges and speak publicly against USA Gymnastics' team doctor Larry Nassar, one of the most prolific sexual abusers in recorded history. As a result of her activism over 300 women - including numerous Olympic medalists - came forward as survivors of Nassar's abuse, eventually leading to his life imprisonment.

Click the photo to register
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Click the form for a printable version
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Continuing Education Hours

CASA Volunteers and Staff are required to complete 12 hours of continuing education each calendar year. Here are a couple of suggestions on ways to earn your hours!

(Please note, you may count up to 6 hours per year watching movies, documentaries, or TV series as part of your continued education. You may read as many books as you'd like but you may only count 3 hours of continuing education toward each book read.)

What to watch Athlete A

"... In 2016, a team of Indianapolis Star journalists—Mark Alesia, Tim Evans, and Marisa Kwiatkowski—reported on a story in which predatory gymnastics coaches had been moved from gym to gym, but never charged with a crime. Their story revealed that USAG protected coaches, and often broke the law by failing to report allegations of abuse to authorities. Former competitive gymnast Rachael Denhollander read the explosive Indianapolis Star article and thought “Now’s the time.” She called The Indianapolis Star about the abuse she suffered at the hands of Larry Nassar. National Rhythmic gymnastics champion Jessica Howard read the same article and also called the newspaper with a similar account of abuse by Nassar. Yet another gymnast, Olympian Jamie Dantzcher, spoke to her attorney who also contacted The Indianapolis Star regarding her Nassar allegations...

Athlete A spotlights the horrific sexual abuse of hundreds of young athletes by USAG team doctor Larry Nassar, and shines an even brighter light on the team of individuals working to hold USA Gymnastics and Larry Nassar accountable. The Indianapolis Star reporters who broke the story and revealed the cover-up that occurred at the highest levels of the Olympic sport. The courageous group of survivors—Nichols, Denhollander, Dantzscher and Howard–who bravely fought the system. Together with a team of other determined women, including—police detective Lt. Andrea Munford and prosecuting attorney Angela Povilaitis— truth prevailed. Justice was served. Nichols was able to find joy in the sport again—at the college level." -

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Before attending the Family and Children's Center April Event with Rachael Denhollander, watch this documentary that features Rachael and her fellow athletes who survived USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar's abuse.

What to Read
The Body Keeps Score Brain Mind and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel Van Der Kolk M D

"The Body Keeps the Score is the inspiring story of how a group of therapists and scientists— together with their courageous and memorable patients—has struggled to integrate recent advances in brain science, attachment research, and body awareness into treatments that can free trauma survivors from the tyranny of the past. These new paths to recovery activate the brain’s natural neuroplasticity to rewire disturbed functioning and rebuild step by step the ability to “know what you know and feel what you feel.” They also offer experiences that directly counteract the helplessness and invisibility associated with trauma, enabling both adults and children to reclaim ownership of their bodies and their lives.

Drawing on more than thirty years at the forefront of research and clinical practice, Bessel van der Kolk shows that the terror and isolation at the core of trauma literally reshape both brain and body. New insights into our survival instincts explain why traumatized people experience incomprehensible anxiety and numbing and intolerable rage, and how trauma affects their capacity to concentrate, to remember, to form trusting relationships, and even to feel at home in their own bodies. Having lost the sense of control of themselves and frustrated by failed therapies, they often fear that they are damaged beyond repair.

What distinguishes THE BODY KEEPS THE SCORE is that the author is both a scientific researcher with a long history of measuring the effect of trauma on brain function, memory, and treatment outcomes, and an active therapist who keeps learning from his patients what benefits them most. This makes for deeply personal, analytic, and highly readable (not to mention incredibly moving) approach to the topic of trauma recovery...

Readers will come away from this book with awe at human resilience and at the power of our relationships—whether in the intimacy of home or in our wider communities—to both hurt and heal."

- From the Publisher

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CASA Book Club
When April 17 2023 at 6 30pm Where South Bend Chocolate Café 122 S Michigan St South Bend What to Read Scared Silent by Mildred Muhammad
Please join us and bring a friend This event is open to both CASA Volunteers and those interested in learning more about the program
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Victoria M.


Heather C.


Brian G.


Marty O.


Walt R.


Sue. S


Christina B-T.


Jenny M.


Terry P.


Melinda W.


Egla B.


Mary G.


Annie J.


Monica L.


Angie W.


Deb G.


Carol R.

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Volunteer Anniversaries

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7 years

  • Bob M.
  • Walt R.

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8 years

  • Marty O.

29 years

  • Denise R.
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1 year

  • Kelly R.

2 years

  • Jenny B.
  • Greg D.
  • Corky S.
  • Tom M.
  • Colleen V.
  • Erin H.


3 years

  • Margaret L.
  • Tammy M.
  • David G.
  • Deb G.
  • Annie J.

4 years

  • Megan E.

5 years

  • Barb R.
  • Mary Anne P.
  • Kelly T-F.


  • Brian G.

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Staff Birthdays


Kim M. - 5/6

Becca H. - 5/17


Amanda B. - 6/21

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Staff anniversaries


9 years

Julie S. - 4/22

20 years

Brenda M. - 4/14

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2023 Holiday Schedule

The CASA Office will be closed on the following dates:

  • May 2, 2023, for Primary Election Day
  • May 29, 2023, in observance of Memorial Day
  • June 19, 2023, in observance of Juneteeth

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month

"Prevent Child Abuse America recognizes that all community members have a role in ensuring children have positive experiences and families have the resources they need when they need them, well before they are in crisis. The theme of this year’s awareness and impact campaign that we lead in partnership with our national network of state chapters, is “Building Together: Prevention in Partnership.”

Child abuse and neglect are preventable, and all communities benefit when children and families are well supported. "

To learn more visit :

"The Children's Bureau's National Foster Care Month campaign recognizes the important role that members from all parts of child welfare play in supporting children, youth, and families. This year’s theme, “Strengthening Minds. Uplifting Families.” highlights the need to take a holistic and culturally responsive approach to supporting the mental health needs of those involved with child welfare."

To learn more visit :

May is national foster care Month

"National Reunification Month is celebrated each June in recognition of the people whose hard work helps keep families together.

Safely reuniting children with their families is the ultimate goal of foster care, and it can be achieved only through the partnership of dedicated parents, foster caregivers and caseworkers.

National Reunification Month was established in 2010 by the American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law and partners."

To learn more visit :

June is national reunification Month


To learn more about the program, visit our website.

Thank you for your continued support of the CASA Program of St. Joseph County!

Current Volunteers

Don't forget to log into Optima to document hours and update contact logs!

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Contact us

By Phone:

574-233-CASA (2272)

By Email:

Do you know someone who may be interested in learning about the CASA program Forward them this email