With a shortage of male volunteers and several cases that would best be served with a male advocate, Child Advocates of Fort Bend hosted a Volunteer Pre-Service Training exclusively for men called MEN OF CASA. “Studies show that children with a consistent, positive male influence in their lives achieve more academically, are more likely to abstain from using drugs, demonstrate greater ability to take initiative, have better physical well-being and better evidence of self-control,” stated Child Advocates of Fort Bend CEO Ruthanne Mefford. “These new volunteers will fill that void for some of the young boys and teenage youth we serve, and we are so excited to have them as a part of the CAFB family,” stated Mefford.
Six men completed the training and were sworn in as volunteers recently by The Honorable Walter Armatys of the 328th Judicial District Court in Fort Bend County. Shown front row (L to R) are Marty Schonberger, James Idea, and Ken Quach. Back row (L to R) are Carl Wagner, Gregg Dixon and Desmond Jones. Each man was interested in becoming an advocate for different reasons.
Schonberger is retired and volunteers for several area non-profits. Friends had told him that should become a CASA Advocate and when he learned about the MEN OF CASA class, he decided to apply. With training suspended because CAFB’s building was under construction and then COVID, Greg Dixon had been waiting more than a year to join a training class.
Desmond Jones has experience serving as a role model. An Assistant Principal at Austin High School, he had served as a mentor to children in foster care with criminal cases when he was in college. “I provided them with lifeskills and taught them how to act appropriately in different situations.” Jones received an email about the training class from a friend who is a CAFB volunteer and decided to do it. He was not familiar with the CASA program prior to applying. “Although I’ve been in education for 20+ years and I’ve dealt with a lot of youth in foster care and group homes, I had seen a lot of CPS Case Managers but had never met a CASA Advocate. Training as a CASA Advocate changed how I work. Now, when I am working with youth in foster care, I will make sure to ask if they have a CASA. Because these kids move so often, and the CASA Advocate stays with children throughout the life of their case, the Advocate is a great resource and help to the child and to their academic success,” said Jones.
James Idea has a background in education, having previously taught in Houston and Alief school districts as well as working for a language school teaching ESL prior to opening Club Z Tutoring, which helps kids looking to improve their academic performance. “I loved how interactive the training was and I am looking forward to the opportunity to put what I’ve learned into action and to doing the good work which will help a lot of kids out there,” said Idea.
Ken Quach had served as a CASA Advocate in Harris County and decided to become an advocate locally because he lives in Fort Bend County and saw the huge unmet need here. “I am so pleased that Fort Bend has a program dedicated to serving children here and that I can apply the experiences I gained in Harris County to better help children locally.”
“We are delighted to have an amazing group of men from all walks of life and backgrounds who want to make a difference in the lives of children,” said Mefford.
Applications are now being accepted for the Fall Volunteer Training Class which is open to both men and women, which starts September 20. For an application or more information contact Jennifer Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org or 281-344-5123.