Volunteer Spotlight – Elizabeth Black

Meet Elizabeth!

Elizabeth Black got involved with Tulsa CASA after meeting our Training & Outreach Manager at a BOK Financial event for the Tulsa Area United Way. She has always thought about providing foster care, but was unsure how to get involved or if it would be a good fit with her current family and work demands. After the BOK event, she immediately signed up for our next CASA training session and feels it has been a perfect fit!

Elizabeth is a Quantitative Credit Risk Analyst for BOK Financial in Tulsa. Before returning to Tulsa in 2019, she spent almost 10 years teaching and working with children in STEM education programs before having children of her own. In addition to working with Tulsa CASA, Elizabeth hopes to get more involved with the STEM programs growing in and around Tulsa in the coming years.

Elizabeth is one of nine children and growing up as an eldest sibling, she spent a lot of time taking care of younger siblings as well as other children like neighbors and cousins. She never imagined she would have children herself, but now she and her husband Carl have 3 children and 2 dogs. In her spare time she likes to play golf, read, hike, and play video games with her kids. Fun fact: She is undefeated in Mario Kart! For now…

What do you enjoy most about being a CASA?

I have truly enjoyed being surrounded by people who are as passionate about a cause as I am. We are all working together to provide Tulsa children with a better future. This common goal brings a lot of energy and satisfaction to the work being done – even if the path can get pretty murky at times.

I regularly send texts and emails with those involved on the case – following up on home visits, ensuring services are being attended, checking in on the kids’ daily progress, and assisting the recently reunited family in identifying and accessing resources as they are needed. Children with a CASA can count on an advocate who objectively fights for their best interests through every change and challenge they face together. Tulsa children are not alone, because of Tulsa CASA’s.

On my current case, there were some very uncertain times and some very unexpected twists and turns. In less than 6 months, we moved from almost certain adoption to a sudden new placement and trial reunification. I will never forget the day I got the text that my CASA kids were starting trial reunification. I cried. Tears are not usually welcome, but these were tears of joy! My CASA kids were going home… and I helped make that happen.

A Note from her Advocate Manager

Elizabeth has come into a case just before the case went to trial and quickly realized there were some significant biases going on with different parties in the case. When Elizabeth brought these issues to the attention of the Court, the case changed drastically. The children are now in trial reunification!

Elizabeth single-handedly and with great humility changed the entire outcome of this case for this family. She did so with grace, care, and an immense amount of active listening to every party involved. She is such a blessing to CASA, and I am deeply grateful for the time, energy, and effort she has put into making a difference in the lives of these children. – Cheryl Wright

Volunteer Spotlight – Maureen Copp

Meet Maureen!

Maureen Copp and her husband John have lived in Tulsa for 25 of the past 28 years. In her free time, Maureen enjoys traveling with her husband and children when possible. She and John have four adult children who live in Tulsa, Hong Kong, Chicago and New York City. She also enjoys staying active through hiking, biking and exercising, doing crossword puzzles, cooking, and reading. A little known fact about Maureen is that she taught French for a few years!

Maureen got involved with Tulsa CASA in 2018. She has done a variety of other community work in the Tulsa area, including Reading Partners, Habitat for Humanity, Catholic Charities, St. Bernard Catholic and Bishop Kelley Advisory Council. She and her husband had been foster parents and Maureen was missing the work they did advocating for the children in their home. CASA was a good avenue for her to continue that mission but with a commitment that better fit their current situation. Maureen currently works with our Safe Babies Court Team, advocating for children aged 0-3.

What do you enjoy most about being a CASA?

I like being part of such a caring, capable, and supportive team! CASA and SBCT are truly devoted to finding resources and services that help build strong families and protect children. CASA builds a network of advocates who are looking out for the best interest of children as they navigate the complex child welfare system, and who also want to end the cycle of abuse and neglect in Tulsa.

My work as a CASA varies from calls with DHS and families, to staffings and court hearings, but the best responsibility is meeting with the child. My favorite moments on a case are when I can witness a child reach their developmental milestones and build healthy and loving bonds!

A Note from her Advocate Manager

Maureen is a joy!  She has developed such a close relationship with her CASA child and the foster family through her advocacy efforts.  I always look forward to reading Maureen’s monthly Optima entries detailing her visits, because she shares her interactions with the child in a way that makes me feel as if I am right there with them.

Every milestone, every new step in the child’s life, Maureen is there to celebrate and share this beautiful child’s story. Maureen has helped expedite the adoption process when it was in danger of getting lost in the system. She is a phenomenal CASA advocate!

Volunteer Spotlight – Heather Streich

 

Meet Heather!

Heather Streich has lived in Tulsa for 26 years. She and her husband have been married for almost 27 years, and they have three children. Their oldest son just graduated from OSU, their 20-year-old son plays basketball at UCO, and their daughter is a junior at Jenks High School. They have a 12-year-old lab named Frisco and since the whole family is all under one roof for the time being due to COVID-19, they also have their son’s 1-year-old golden doodle, Brodie.

Heather is mostly a stay-at-home mom, and used to be a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She currently does premarital counseling for her church at First Baptist Tulsa. Aside from CASA, she has been involved in many areas of volunteerism. Heather and her husband have fostered six children, and participate in various activities within their church. Heather has been the chair for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation walk and also does community work with Unite My City.

In her free time, Heather enjoys playing tennis and organizing friends for supper. She got involved with CASA when a friend mentioned that they should attend a Tulsa CASA Lunch and Learn, because their kids were too old to need them as much anymore. She completed training in June 2019 and started on her first case in July. Heather works with our Safe Babies Court Team, ensuring the needs of children aged 0-3 are met expeditiously by the court system.

What do you enjoy most about being a CASA?

Connecting with the kids and finding practical ways to help. Recently, I brought one of the boys’ bikes home to have my husband fix the chain. The boys I see love stories so I enjoy digging through my kids’ old books and sharing stories I used to read to them with my CASA kids.

I love when I see the children at court and they run up and practically tackle me, jumping in my arms. I am hoping the children will move from temporary to permanent placement with their mother this month.

CASA offers Tulsa a chance for very different people to get to know each other and learn to work together. In turn, we find out that we have a lot more in common than it appears. Find something that you enjoy and jump in to volunteer!

A Note from her Advocate Manager

Heather started her journey with CASA in July of 2019 and has been on the same case since then. She has developed a bond with not only the kiddos on her case but the mother as well. Heather is constantly in contact with the family, has assisted them through good and bad times, and fights for what is in the children’s best interest.

The impact Heather is making on her case is monumental and these kids are able to thrive because of her.  It is such a pleasure to get to work with Heather and she is an asset to our program. I feel so blessed that I get to be her advocate manager and witness the difference she is making in this world! – Kaitlin Brasher

April Anniversaries

Happy Anniversary month to our April CASAs! Thank you for giving children in Tulsa County a voice and making sure their best interest is heard.

As our staff works from home, our volunteers do as well! They are on FaceTime calls with their CASA kiddos, checking in with service providers, and making sure the families have everything they need during this time of uncertainty. We’re feeling extra thankful for them this month!

 

Child Abuse Prevention Month

April is nationally recognized as Child Abuse Prevention Month. Help us bring awareness to child abuse and neglect by using our profile picture frame on Facebook and wearing a virtual blue ribbon (in the spirit of social distancing!) 💙💙💙

Click here to add our frame to your Facebook profile picture during the month of April

According to Oklahoma Human Services, 2,849 children in Tulsa County were confirmed to be victims of child abuse and/or neglect last year. Can you be their voice? #ChangeAChildsStory#STOPChildAbuse

Tulsa CASA COVID-19 Response

In the midst of this unprecedented pandemic, children and families are struggling to make it through each day, one day at a time. Many of our families, already engaged with the child welfare system prior to COVID-19, will have an even more difficult time than the average family.

Fortunately, CASA volunteers can still be strong supporters and advocates for the children they are appointed to and their families, while still observing social distancing and self-quarantining protocols.

As of March 18, Tulsa CASA, Inc. has suspended all in-person visitations, though virtual visits are encouraged to provide consistency and support to CASA children during this time of uncertainty.

The Tulsa CASA Inc. office and building are closed until further notice. Staff is working remotely from their homes. All forms of communication will be over phone or email until the office is reopened.

We have cancelled all in-service trainings for current advocates through April 30, 2020 and all pre-service training for new volunteers has been moved to a completely online/virtual meeting format.

While advocates are unable to visit with children and families in person, Skype or FaceTime, email, texting or calling are great ways to stay in touch. Volunteers are encouraged to make weekly check-in calls to caregivers and children, and inquire about things such as . . .

  • Health of all household members — physical and mental
  • How are school/distance learning assignments being completed? What was sent by the district/teacher? Is the teacher available via email or help, if needed? How can the CASA assist virtually?
  • What is the family doing to keep busy daily?
  • Is anyone in the household still working outside of the home?
  • Has the child/children had any issues behaviorally since being home from school?
  • If the child’s visitation has been suspended due to COVID-19, have they been able to stay in touch with their parents/sibling(s) by phone?
  • Is the household having any other challenges? (Financial, shortage of food, childcare for healthcare workers/first responders, etc.)
  • Are there upcoming non-urgent medical/dental appointments for the child/children? If so, has DHS been consulted to determine whether these appointments can be postponed?
  • Does the caretaker have supportive individuals they are relying on right now to stay sane and healthy?
Volunteers are also encouraged to make contact with anyone else involved with the child’s care during this time to determine what their status is currently in relation to the child (if services are being suspended, being offered remotely, etc.). This includes contact with the natural parents, even if the child is not currently in their care.

Crisis in health, mental health, domestic violence and child welfare may arise during this stressful time. Some important information and contacts to have on hand:

Oklahoma Child Abuse Hotline
Be alert and keep an eye out for signs of abuse and neglect, even more than usual, because abuse and neglect have been shown to increase during times of crisis/natural disasters. If you suspect child abuse and/or neglect, call the OK Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-522-3511 as soon as possible and alert your Advocate Manager.
Domestic Violence Hotline
Being quarantined at home is not always safe. Domestic Violence Intervention Hotline can be reached at 918-7HELP-ME (918-743-2763) 24 hours a day/7 days a week. The DVIS hotline can provide help to anyone experiencing domestic violence or if you want to help someone who is.
2-1-1 Hotline
2-1-1 Oklahoma will enable everyone to get help or provide help. 2-1-1 Oklahoma offers information and referral across the spectrum of human need, including but not limited to rental assistance, food pantries, affordable housing, health resources, child care, after-school programs, caregiver support, financial programs, literacy, and job programs.
And if you have any questions about COVID-19 here are some reliable sources to get updates from:
The World Health Organization: https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus

Volunteer Spotlight – Tracy Roberson

Meet Tracy!

Tracy Roberson knew for years that she wanted to be involved with CASA. After her youngest daughter went off to college and some of her other volunteer commitments were finished, she had time to freely devote to CASA and completed training in June 2019.

Tracy grew up in Tulsa but lived in Norman for 11 years until returning to the 918 in 1991. Since returning, she has been involved with various different organizations in a volunteer capacity. Tracy has also volunteered with Meals on Wheels, Bixby Educational Endowment Foundation, Bixby Outreach Center, and Call Rape.

Tracy has a cat named Holly and 3 daughters; Perri is 26 and lives in LA, Peyton is 23 and lives in OKC, and her youngest daughter Quinn is a sophomore at the University of Oklahoma.

Tracy was a stay-at-home mom while her children were growing up, but prior to that she was the Director of Student Services at the University Center at Tulsa (now OSU-Tulsa) and was Assistant Director of Student Development and Sorority Advisor at the University of Oklahoma. It’s safe to say that being a Sooner runs in their family!

When Tracy has free time outside of volunteering, she enjoys spending time with her children and friends, playing tennis, and traveling.

What do you enjoy most about being a CASA?

The relationships with the kids, of course. It’s definitely gratifying to get big smiles and hugs from the kids, feeling like they’re happy to see me.

My current CASA kiddo is in an intensive inpatient treatment facility and has inconsistent face-to-face visitors. I try to provide weekly visits where she can take a break from life for a bit and just be a kid, while also reinforcing positive behavior for her. CASA offers love, security and safety to Tulsa’s children in foster care.

My favorite moment on a case was when I would visit my CASA child at school, during recess and lunch. One day when the children were lining up for lunch, a boy in her class that she had mentioned was mean to her jumped in front of her in the lunch line. I asked if he meant to jump in front of her, and he quickly moved back behind her where he was supposed to be. Well, my little girl told him I was her attorney…I’m pretty sure none of the second graders (including her) knew what an attorney or a CASA were, but she certainly said it with a lot of authority!

I also love working with my advocate manager, Chloe. She goes above and beyond to give support and encouragement. She makes me feel as if my questions and my case were the only things she had to worry about!

A Note from her Advocate Manager

Tracy has only been an advocate since July, but she has already been an integral part of two cases. From the very beginning it was obvious that she was going to be a dedicated advocate.

She is kind, dependable and always shows up to meetings, visits, hearings or wherever she is needed. She is constantly surprising me with the amount of thought, effort and care she puts into her cases. When she serves her kiddos, she is absolutely all-in and goes the extra mile to make them feel special and wanted.

Once her first case closed, she jumped right back in and asked to serve another child! AND she drives an hour and a half almost every week to visit her CASA kiddo! She knows being present and showing up is the best way to advocate for them.

It is an absolute pleasure to work with Tracy as a team, and she keeps me informed about every step. I am so thankful she has volunteered her time to serve these children in our community! – Chloe Baldwin

March Anniversaries 

Happy Anniversary month, March CASAs! Thank you for Changing a Child’s Story and making a commitment to children in Tulsa County. We appreciate you all so much!

Volunteer Spotlight – Dayna Applegate

Meet Dayna!

Dayna Applegate has been a CASA volunteer since September 2018. She describes herself as a major book junkie and she also enjoys doing yoga and playing outside with her children in her spare time. She and her husband, Levi, have three children ranging in age from 4-8 years old.

Dayna is a registered nurse and also volunteers at “Parents Night Out” quarterly for foster and adoptive parents. Dayna says that she has always had a heart for children caught up in the foster care system and wanted to find a way to get involved.

She didn’t know a lot about CASA, but she has a friend who volunteers in another state. So she called her friend to ask some questions, attended a Lunch and Learn at Tulsa CASA, and signed up for training. She says “I was hooked!” We are so glad she decided to take the next step and pursue certification as a Court Appointed Special Advocate!

What do you enjoy most about being a CASA?

I enjoy the chance to be one more person in a child’s life that lets them know they are important and they are worthy of love. CASA offers support and stability to one of our most vulnerable populations when their world is being flipped upside down.

My favorite moment on a case was when I visited the family for the first time after the children had been reunited with their mother. I loved seeing the joy on all of their faces to be back together again!

If you are looking to volunteer in the community, there is something out there for every passion and every personality. Talk to people you know, ask around on Facebook, and most people will be able to point you towards an opportunity.

A Note from her Advocate Manager

What can I say about Dayna that hasn’t already been said? She is such a phenomenal advocate who does the absolute best on her case. Dayna has been a CASA less than two years and she had no hesitation in taking her second case when her first case ended.

I enjoy being Dayna’s advocate manager because she’s always in contact with me, making sure her CASA kiddos have everything they need. Dayna shows up for every hearing, even if it lasts for hours! She has a fun and vibrant personality, and I can only imagine she uses that when she visits her CASA children.

Dayna is one of those rare advocates we find who gives this work her all, and goes above and beyond to make a difference in the life of a child. – Kristen Dake

Thank You, CASA Casino Sponsors!

Many, many thanks to all of our CASA Casino Sponsors this year!

Presenting Sponsor

George Kaiser Family Foundation

High Roller Sponsor

H.A and Mary K. Chapman Charitable Trust

Royal Flush Sponsor

QuikTrip
The E.L. and Thelma Gaylord Foundation
Smolen & Roytman

Full House Sponsor

The Anne and Henry Zarrow Foundation
ONEOK
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Oklahoma
Bearwood Concepts
Hogan Taylor
Modern Woodmen Fraternal Financial
Public Service Company of Oklahoma
Steve and Debbie Smith-Berlin
TruHealth
Xcaliber International
Tulsa Wealth Advisors
Keith and Linda Van Dyke
Unit Corporation
Williams
The Arthur Family