Toast to Success 2019

Last night was our annual Volunteer Appreciation event, Toast to Success, and what a party to celebrate our OUTSTANDING volunteers! Thank you to all of the court personnel, board members, guests, and volunteers who attended. And congratulations to our Honorees! The hard work you do on behalf of CASA and children in Tulsa County does not go unnoticed. #ToastToSuccess #TulsaCASA

Volunteer Spotlight – Terrie Miller

Meet Terrie!

Terrie Miller is a Senior Accountant at ONEOK and has been with the company for 21 years. Born and raised in the Tulsa area, Terrie has been involved in many community events. She volunteers often through her company, and has participated in Habitat for Humanity, Special Olympics, MLK Parade, and Tulsa Area United Way events. She has also volunteered with John 3:16, CAP Tulsa, and through her church.

Terrie went back to college to complete her degree and had a Criminal Justice course where she learned about CASA and how it was started by a judge who was frustrated over making life-changing decisions for children without ever meeting them. Terrie applied to Tulsa CASA and completed training in March 2012.

When Terrie has free time, she enjoys gardening, reading, cooking, and traveling. Her next trip will be to Germany to visit her youngest daughter, who serves at a Church in East Germany with her husband. Her oldest daughter is married with four children, and she also love to spend time with her grandkids every Thursday evening.

What do you enjoy most about being a CASA?

CASA offers Tulsa a chance to give personal value to the kids who are involved in tragic cases not of their own making or control. We are often the only consistent person in their lives, especially when they’re moved several times or assigned to different caseworkers.

My current case has two kids who were placed 3 hours away about 18 months ago. I’ve been able to make the trip every month and have visited them at the lake, at a school choir competition, and at two different foster placements in that area. CASA can see their strengths and is not distracted by bad behavior.

If you’re looking to volunteer in your community, get out of your comfort zone and learn how to use your skills and talents to serve those in need with love.

A Note from her Advocate Manager

For the past three years, Terrie has remained dedicated to her CASA kiddos during 6 placement changes, countless changes in caseworkers and attorneys, and even failed adoptions. Terrie has been with the children longer than any other professional in their foster care journey.

She has committed to seeing them find their forever family—which will finalize any month now. Please join me in congratulating Terrie for her years of hard work and dedication to two very special children and their happy ever after! – Kylee Jenkins

Volunteer Spotlight – Matthew Cecconi

Meet Matthew!

Matthew moved to Tulsa two years ago after living his entire life in Los Angeles, CA. His wife Camille came to Tulsa one year prior, and suggested it would be a great place for them to live. Upon becoming a member of the community, Matthew was looking for ways to get involved when his wife suggested that CASA would provide an opportunity to support children in the Tulsa area.

Matthew volunteered at a summer camp for children in foster care during college, and he has also been a Reading Partners tutor for the past two school years. In his spare time, Matthew enjoys reading, cooking, and baseball. Naturally a big Los Angeles Dodgers fan, he loves going to the Drillers games since they are a minor league team for the Dodgers!

Matthew will be starting his first year of law school at the University of Tulsa this month. He attributes his experience as a CASA volunteer to being one of the reasons he decided to apply for and attend law school. We are wishing him great success in his new educational endeavors!

What do you enjoy most about being a CASA?

Before I started volunteering with CASA, I felt as if I was not the right person because of a lack of skills and lack of time. The most meaningful work I do as a CASA is visiting my CASA kids. By jumping in, I realized that I already possessed the skills needed to be a CASA, and I wanted to spend even more time with the children on my case!

I love being a constant in their life while so many other parts of it are up in the air. My responsibility as a CASA is to look out for the best interest of the child. One day, that may mean going to a soccer practice. On another day, it means representing their best interests in court.

CASA provides a way to support children in foster care, and that may make all the difference in their life.

A Note from his Advocate Manager

Matthew currently carries two cases and he does not miss a beat juggling them both. His pleasant, friendly, and helpful demeanor make him successful at establishing rapport with the children and parties on his cases.

The adoptive parents on one of his cases look to Matthew as being a resource for them, and a positive male role model for their children. Being his manager is an absolute pleasure; he is an outstanding volunteer! – Julie Blake

Movie in the Park at Guthrie Green

 

We are overjoyed at the success of our Movie in the Park night at Guthrie Green last Thursday! Our staff was able to sign up new volunteers, raise community awareness, and provide popcorn for movie-goers to snack on. What a crowd! Thank you to everyone who came out for the movie and stopped by our table to chat with our Superhero Staff. We already can’t wait for next year! #MovieintheParkwithTulsaCASA

Volunteer Spotlight – Audrey DeLay

Meet Audrey!

Audrey came to Tulsa CASA in June 2018 with experience in the Social Work field. As a Theta at the University of Oklahoma, Audrey always loved the mission of CASA and decided to volunteer when the time was right.

She is married to her high school sweetheart and is a mom to their two daughters and one dog. When Audrey is not working on her CASA case, she enjoys working out, reading and traveling with family and friends.

Outside of her work with CASA, Audrey places a high value on community involvement. Prior to moving to Tulsa 3 years ago she was involved in the Edmond Women’s Club, chairing the grant’s committee and serving on the board. She has also served on the Post Adjudication Review Board for child abuse and neglect cases, and loves to volunteer at her children’s school.

What do you enjoy most about being a CASA

I like to say that my responsibility as a CASA is simply recommending what is in the best interest of the child, but to know that means you must visit with the children at school and at home. You get to know the children as well as their caregivers and responsible parties at their school.

Tulsa CASA provides a way to help the children who are in DHS custody. CASA’s ensure that these children are not falling through the cracks, will hopefully not stay in foster care for too long, and get all of the court ordered services they deserve.

A Note from her Advocate Manager

With her professional background, I knew Audrey would be great on her case considering the circumstances. Audrey always has her CASA child’s best interest at heart, and always wants what is best for them.

Audrey is reliable, dependable, trustworthy, and all-around fantastic. I hope to work with her for years to come, as I believe she is one of the best child advocates out there! — Kristen Dake

 

 

CASA University

Last night, we hosted the inaugural CASA University event for volunteers to network and learn more about the key components of their role. All in all, it was an overwhelming success! We are so proud of our volunteers and want to thank each of the advocates who were able to attend and help us kick off a new tradition. #CASAU

Volunteer Spotlight – Ashley Ailey

Meet Ashley!

Ashley Ailey became a Tulsa CASA volunteer in March 2018. After reading Three Little Words by Ashley Rhodes-Courter and being moved by her story, Ashley decided that she wanted to help children in foster care and provide a voice for them; it just so happens that Ashley Rhodes-Courter was our CASA Casino guest speaker that same year!

Before CASA, Ashley Ailey volunteered with Girl Scouts and Reading Partners. Ashley enjoys being a CASA volunteer because she is able to work with the same child until their case closes, while gathering information from the caseworkers, foster parents, biological parents, and other service providers to determine the best interest of the child.

Ashley works as a family law paralegal, and was recently accepted into the Law program at the University of Tulsa. She and her husband have two daughters, as well as two Labradors.

When she is not working, attending classes, or visiting her CASA child, Ashley’s children keep her busy with their sports schedules—especially softball! She and her husband also love college football, and although they are both OSU alumni, he roots for OU while she loves OSU.

Ashley, thank you for everything that you do on behalf of Tulsa CASA. Your passion for helping children in foster care does not go unnoticed, and we are lucky to have you as an advocate for children in Tulsa County!

“Tulsa CASA offers children a person who is involved in their case from beginning to end. A person who is not associated with DHS, the ADA, or the child’s attorney. A person who is solely there for their best interest. These children are the future of our community; giving them the supports they need to be successful is extremely vital.” – Ashley Ailey

A Note from her Advocate Manager

Ashley is a tremendously hardworking advocate who is wholeheartedly devoted to her CASA children. She has a very full schedule with work, being a wife and mother, and starting law school in July; yet she still makes time to focus on a teenager and three young children each month in order to be a voice for them as they experience the uncertainty of foster care.

As a new Advocate Manager with Tulsa CASA, it has been a pleasure to work with such a dedicated volunteer!

– Cheryl Wright

Board Member Spotlight – Debbie King

Meet Debbie!

Debbie King has served on the Tulsa CASA Board of Directors for 4 years, previously as Treasurer and Vice President, and now as our current Board President! She truly goes above and beyond for CASA and is dedicated to our mission.

Debbie got involved with CASA after another board member and colleague “consistently talked about what a fantastic organization CASA was and described how much they helped children.” We couldn’t be more thankful to have her expertise on the board and in a leadership role!

Debbie describes her typical responsibilities for CASA as leading board meetings, communicating with other board members, and coordinating with CASA staff regarding financials, fundraising, and staffing.

Professionally, Debbie is the Vice President of Audit Services for ONEOK, Inc. and has been with the company for 17 years. She has lived in Tulsa for 28 years and has been involved in volunteerism with a variety of organizations, such as dog rescues, the Bixby Outreach Center, Komen-Race for the Cure, Child Abuse Network, and serving on the YMCA board.

Debbie and her husband Jeff have two children, Lauren and Ryan, and recently welcomed their first grandson, James! In addition, they have two furry family members—rescue dogs Jake and Haze.

In her spare time, Debbie enjoys running, camping, and attending any OSU event. It is an honor to work with Debbie and her service as Board President will have a lasting impact on our organization. Thank you for all that you do on behalf of CASA!

“CASA offers Tulsa children a voice, to communicate their best interests to parties on the case, including the judge. Find an organization that supports something you are passionate about and focus your efforts there to see what areas you can best use your talents.” – Debbie King

A Note from our Executive Director

Over the last few months of working with Debbie I have come to recognize her giving spirit and rely on her thoughtful input. She is passionate about the mission and dedicated to growing CASA to serve more children to meet the need in the community.

Debbie is beloved by the CASA staff and has truly gone out of her way to demonstrate her support for them and all their work. She is an invaluable asset to Tulsa CASA and we are grateful to have her as our Board President. — Elizabeth Fisher

Volunteer Spotlight – Carrie Mulder

Meet Carrie!

Carrie Mulder is a life long Tulsan, and one of our Dual Status volunteers at Tulsa CASA. Our Dual Status docket is comprised of youth who are both deprived and delinquent—handling both of their court cases inside of one courtroom, with one court team.

Carrie describes

her typical activities as a Dual Status team member as calling in and checking on her kiddo in his placement, and visiting him as often as possible. She collects and organizes all of his information and keeps both his DHS and Office of Juvenile Affairs workers informed of his current status. She says that no two days look alike, and we know that is absolutely true in the work of a CASA volunteer!

Carrie understands the importance of CASA in the Tulsa community, stating “it is priceless for our community to have an advocate for children and to have someone solely interested in what is deemed ‘best’ for the child. CASA volunteers have no agendas, except for advocating for the child.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves! Carrie truly understands the mission of our program and exemplifies that through her own CASA advocacy.

Carrie is married to her husband Bill, and they have a daughter, a son, a daughter-in-law and an 11-month-old grandbaby. In addition to their human family members, they have three pets—a 115 pound lazy mastiff, a 7-month-old Aussie, and a cat named Charlie.

Carrie’s hobbies include walking, reading, listening to music and playing with her grandson. A previous business owner and educator with Jenks Public Schools, she is currently helping her son establish his own business.

Carrie has served in many volunteer capacities through her children’s school and extra curricular activities, and was looking for the “right” volunteer experience when the ads for CASA caught her eye. Carrie, we are so glad that you decided to join the CASA team. Thank you for being a Court Appointed Special Advocate!

“I highly recommend being a CASA volunteer to anyone who is interested in helping our kids. My advice is, just do it! Getting started is the hardest part; make the first call or take the first steps, but do it. Wherever you volunteer, Tulsa needs you. So get going!” – Carrie Mulder

A Note from her Advocate Manager

Carrie Mulder is an amazing advocate who has a fierce determination. Carrie knew early on that she wanted to work with teenagers because she understands them.

Since saying yes in May 2018, to a very difficult case, Carrie has been a steady, calming influence to all parties involved. The team members assigned to her case have come to depend on Carrie’s perspective, and truly believe she is a rock star!

She has a huge heart filled with compassion, while at the same time she is able to report objectively about what she knows is in the child’s best interest. Carrie Mulder was meant to do this work and I am so grateful to her.”
– Julie Blake

Volunteer Spotlight – Doann Nguyen

Meet Doann!

Doann Nguyen has lived in Bartlesville, OK for the last 10 years, working at Phillips 66 in a
variety of roles upon her graduation from Oklahoma State University. In addition to a successful career in IT, Doann is no stranger to community service.

She was sworn-in as a CASA in June 2018 and served her community in various other capacities prior to joining our program. Doann has volunteered for Big Brothers and Big Sisters, was a former City Councilor for Bartlesville, and has served on boards at other nonprofits. Doann is also a volunteer baker for an organization that provides celebration cakes to families impacted by the critical illness of a child.

When Doann is not busy with work or community service, she enjoys baking and all things culinary. She also likes to play piano and the accordion in her spare time. She and her husband, Brandon, have been married for three years, and enjoy spending time together by creating new things in the kitchen and hanging out with their pets. The star of the family is their feisty two-year-old French Bulldog, Henri, and their two cats: a sweet, fluffy, white cat named Lily and a grumpy, diabetic cat named Tucker.

Doann describes her typical responsibilities as a CASA as regularly talking with foster and natural parents, and visiting her kiddos as often as she can. She says that she learns the most about the children on her case when they are sitting on the floor and playing together. Other, less visible responsibilities include staying objective, checking her biases, and putting empathy first. We are grateful to have had such a wonderful new advocate join our program. Thank you for serving CASA children, Doann!

“Use a volunteer opportunity to expose yourself to something outside of your everyday experience. CASA serves Tulsa social workers and judges by dedicating a fresh pair of eyes and serves Tulsa children by ensuring that they’re truly seen. CASA proves to Tulsa’s underrepresented children that they don’t have to stay that way.” – Doann Nguyen

A Note from her Advocate Manager

Doann is an incredibly ambitious and driven advocate. She dove head-first into her very first case by
serving five children in two different foster homes. She goes above and beyond, traveling hundreds of miles each month to visit them, ensure their needs are met, and their voices are heard.

She has been a tremendous resource to both natural and foster families she works with, and often bridges gaps in communication between parties when necessary. No matter the circumstance, I can always count on her to remain professional and level-headed.

I truly enjoy working with such a passionate, outgoing advocate, and look forward to watching her grow in this role. – Kylee Jenkins