The CASA Program of St. Joseph County Newsletter

The Advocate

2nd Quarter 2022

CASA Makes a Difference

CASA Demographics for 2022 to date:

  • Number of Children Served in 2022: 554
  • Number of Children on the Waiting List: 184
  • Number of CASA Staff Full-Time: 16
  • Number of CASA Staff Part-Time: 2
  • Number of Active Volunteers in 2022: 112

Congratulations to the the first graduating class of 2022!

New Staff Advocate!

Mekenna has always loved working with children and families. She worked with high school special needs students for a short time and was a preschool teacher for five years.Most recently, she was a Juvenile Detention Officer in LaPorte County.After working at the preschool for many years, Mekenna decided to get her Associates Degree in Early Childhood Education.She plans to continue her education to receive a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology.

Mekenna enjoys playing and coaching volleyball, reading, and spending time with her fur baby.

Mekenna is excited to join St. Joseph County CASA and advocate for children in the community.

CASA is happy to announce our newest Staff Advocate, Mekenna!

New Staff Advocate!

Kyleigh was born in Mishawaka, IN. She has been an intern with the CASA program since August 2021. She plans to graduate from Indiana University South Bend with a bachelor's degree in Social Work this May. Kyleigh resides in the Mishawaka area with her son and their cat, Luca. Kyleigh is excited and honored to join the SJC CASA team.She is looking forward to working towards making a positive impact in a child’s life. In her free time she enjoys doing outdoor activities, traveling, and spending time with her family and friends.

CASA is happy to announce our newest Staff Advocate, Kyleigh!

Help us celebrate Volunteer Week April 17-23!

If you have any inspiring stories about fellow volunteers please send them to


St. Patrick's Day Parade

Thank you to everyone who came out to walk with us on a cold and rainy Saturday!

Because of you the St. Patrick's Day Parade was a success!

Staff Spotlight: Ann

How long have you been a CASA? 1.5 years

How did you hear about CASA? I first heard of CASA when I was a skills trainer. I was fascinated to learn the role CASA has in our community. The CASA we had on our team was very diligent and advocated well for his child.

What made you want to work at CASA? Not only do I get to advocate for children, but I am surrounded by others with similar goals and passions.

Tell me something interesting about yourself. I am the first born in the United States of my generation! My parents are from Cambodia.

What is some advice you would give to someone considering becoming a CASA volunteer? You will learn so much beyond the courtroom and classroom. Nothing is black and white which is what makes each situation unique. Just know that you will have some of the best support!

We want to thank Liz for being a fantastic CASA, and wish her well in her new ventures! Please take a moment to read the testimonial she wrote on her last day as a CASA.

Liz's post: "Today is my last day as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) in Saint Joseph County, IN. In this role I have built a relationship with and advocated for a child in foster care, I met the most inspiring people, I cried (a lot), and I learned SO MUCH…..about myself and about the system.

The waitlist for kids to be assigned a CASA in Saint Joe County is over 175. Friends…..please consider this volunteer work. I won’t lie, it’s HARD. But I promise it will give you so much more good than you can fathom.

Whether you are here in the South Bend area, or somewhere else in the country, please consider reaching out to your local CASA office and learn more about volunteering. I’m looking forward to eventually joining the CASA volunteer team in our new home state. "

Volunteer Testimonial:

Continuing Education Hours

CASA Volunteers and Staff are required to complete 12 hours of continued learning each calendar year. Here are a couple of suggestions on ways to earn your hours! (Please note, you are only allowed to use 6 hours per year watching a movie or TV series.)

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What to watch :

Paper tigers (Documentary)

Paper Tigers follows a year in the life of an alternative high school that has radically changed its approach to disciplining its students, becoming a promising model for how to break the cycles of poverty, violence and disease that affect families using the ACES Study.

“Stressed brains can’t learn.”

That was the nugget of neuroscience that Jim

Sporleder, principal of a high school riddled with

violence, drugs and truancy, took away from

an educational conference in 2010. Three years

later, the number of fights at Lincoln Alternative

High School had gone down by 75% and the graduation rate had increased five-fold. Paper Tigers is the story of how one school made such dramatic progress.

*Warning, there is graphic language and content in this documentary*

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Now Taking Suggestions

Have you read a book, and/or seen a movie, or television series that you think should be in our next newsletter?

Email your suggestions to or visit our Facebook page and message us there!

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Buddy was born with a silver needle in his mother's arm. Abandoned in the back seat after a car chase, the nine-month-old started a journey through a foster care system that could cause as much harm as help.

Author Holly Schlaack knows Buddy's world from the inside out. Holly is a former children’s services caseworker and Guardian ad Litem charged with representing the best interests of abused and neglected infants and toddlers in court. She created and managed an award-winning program, Building Blocks, while supervising and mentoring Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs), and co-founded the Southwest Chapter of the Ohio Association for Infant Mental Health. She is a highly-regarded speaker who trains nationally on topics related to protecting and supporting very young children.

Buddy is an all-too-real fictional story that puts you smack into Buddy's reality. More than seeing it, you feel it. More than understanding it, you experience it. And once you do, you will never see the world the same way again.

Book Recommendation

Buddy View from the Pumpkin Seat

By: Holly Schlaak

Recommended by CASA Volunteer Kay G

Interested in reading more books related to your work as a CASA? Join National CASA's Book Club HERE !


  • 6 YEARS: Bob M, Walt R, Jim F
  • 8 YEARS: Julie S
  • 14 YEARS: Sharon L
  • 19 YEARS: Brenda M


  • 7 YEARS: Marty O
  • 28 YEARS: Denise R


  • 1 YEAR: Amanda G, Tom M, Colleen V, Erin H, Corrine S, Samantha T, Jennifer B, Greg D, Lou Ann W
  • 2 YEARS: David G, Debra G, Rachel H, Tammy M, Annie J, Margaret L
  • 3 YEARS: Megan E, Victoria M, Myles R
  • 4 YEARS: Heather C, Kelly T-F, Barb R, Tiffany W
  • 20 YEARS: Brian G


happy birthday heroes!

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  • Victoria M
  • Richard V
  • Heather C
  • Rachel H
  • Sarah R
  • Marty O
  • Walt R


  • Susan S
  • Dani J
  • Terry P
  • Kim M
  • Becca H
  • Vicki M

Businessman looking at his superman shadow


  • Melinda W
  • Debra G
  • Elga B
  • Angie W
  • Annie J
  • Carol R
  • Kennedy W-H
  • Amanda B


Josiah White's Foster Care is hosting a community event on May 21, 2022 at Central Park in Mishawaka. There will be a 1 mile family walk, food trucks, live entertainment, activities, games, a photo booth and face painting.

The CASA Program of St. Joseph County will be in attendance with a vendor booth. We encourage you to register for the walk or just come out to enjoy the free festivities!

The cost to register for the walk is:

$10 for ages 13 and over (includes a t-shirt)

$5 for ages 12 and under (includes a t-shirt)

Free for ages 12 and under (no t-shirt)

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month

National Child Abuse Prevention Month recognizes the importance of families and communities working together to strengthen families to prevent child abuse and neglect. Through this collaboration, prevention services and supports help protect children and produce thriving families.

To learn more, visit:

After the last two years of pandemic living, many people are realizing that stress, isolation, and uncertainty have taken a toll on their well-being.

The stigma around mental health and treatment has long existed. Even though this has started to change, people still hesitate to seek help or even talk about it with their loved ones for fear of being judged.

To learn more, visit:

June is PTSD Awareness Month

There are currently about 8 million people in the United States with PTSD. Help bring awareness to PTSD. Not all wounds are visible. Americans suffer from many different types of PTSD whether they be Veterans, survivors of sexual assault, serious accidents, natural disasters, or other traumatic events.

To learn more, visit:

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The Office

2022 Holiday Schedule

The CASA Office will be closed on the following dates:

Good Friday


Primary Election Day


Memorial Day


Independence Day



The CASA Program of St. Joseph County is in need of Volunteers! Our next training class will begin on April 26, 2022. Classes are held on Tuesday and Thursday evenings at the Juvenile Justice Center from 5:30pm-7:30pm. The course lasts 8 weeks.

Fill out an application and visit our website to learn more!

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

Current CASAS

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Contact us

By Phone:

574-233-CASA (2272)

By Email:

Know someone who may be interested in learning about CASA? Forward them this email!