Volunteer Spotlight – Bruce Fensler

Meet Bruce!

Bruce Fensler started his CASA training the day after he retired in 2016. He retired from a career in IT and also spent over 20 years in the Oklahoma Air National Guard. Bruce moved to Tulsa 38 years ago from Topeka, KS to attend Spartan School of Aeronautics, but says that he hasn’t even worked on an airplane since graduation!

As you can tell, Bruce is our resident funny guy. When asked to describe himself in three words, Bruce chose “funny, joyful, and getting old”. A little known fact about him is that he received hitting advice from long-time Boston Red Sox left-fielder Ted Williams when Bruce was 10 years old.

When speaking on this experience, Bruce said: “it did not help”. We are delighted every time Bruce brings his kind personality and funny quips around the CASA office.

Bruce stays in regular contact with the children and families he serves—both biological and
foster. One of his strengths is being able to assess the child’s needs and meet them with accuracy.

Aside from volunteering with CASA, Bruce also takes part in other community work. He volunteers at Mitchell Elementary School in North Tulsa and is a volunteer children’s pastor at his church. When he is not giving his time to work with children, Bruce enjoys traveling. He has been to Peru 5-6 times and will be traveling to Guatemala later this year on a mission trip.

Bruce and his wife, Shio, have been married for 35 years and they have 2 children and 5 grandchildren. Bruce also enjoys walking and spending time with his grandchildren whenever he is able. Bruce—we appreciate the levels of dedication and kindness that you show to each family you come into contact with. Thank you for being an exemplary CASA volunteer!

“There are so many needs in our world. Find a place to help and bring joy to someone else.” – Bruce Fensler

A Note from his Advocate Manager

Bruce is the consummate professional when it comes to his CASA volunteering. He brings his kind, compassionate demeanor with him wherever he goes.

He remained calm and understanding towards a parent in the difficult stages of a domestic violence case, even when the parent acted indifferent to others. As time went on he developed a very nice rapport with the parent and stayed the course until the family was reunited—an outcome that he had hoped for.

Bruce is starting a new case with the previous DHS worker who was so happy when she learned she would work with Bruce again. If you have ever had the pleasure of meeting Bruce Fensler, I’m sure you recall his beautiful, warm smile.  I count myself lucky for knowing Bruce and working with him. – Julie Blake

Volunteer Spotlight – Jessica Campbell

Meet Jessica!

Jessica Campbell got involved with CASA because she had been wanting to get involved in community work on a more regular and permanent basis than she had before. As Jessica would say, “around that same time I saw a CASA commercial and thought it sounded like a good fit for me” … we couldn’t agree more!

Jessica always goes above and beyond for the children on her cases, making sure that her CASA kids are safe, fed, making it to school, keeping in contact with caregivers for updates, and so much more. Aside from volunteering with CASA, Jessica has participated in other community work with the Tulsa Food Bank and Habitat for Humanity.

When she is not advocating for her CASA kids or pursuing other community needs, Jessica enjoys reading, gardening and being a soccer mom. Jessica and her husband Evan have three children, Conner, Beckham, and Evelyn, and a 12 year old Collie named Denver.

Professionally, Jessica is a Landman for an oil and gas company and one little known fact about her is that she dreams of being a farmer—and will be someday!

Her advice for someone looking to volunteer in the community is to “find something that touches your heart and plays on your strengths”. We feel so lucky that Jessica chose CASA as the organization to utilize her own strengths and gain more community involvement. Thank you for being a such a wonderful advocate for your CASA kiddos, Jessica!

“CASA offers dependable activists for children in our community who have likely never had anyone dependable in their lives.” – Jessica Campbell

A Note from her Advocate Manager

Jessica is determined, objective, and has a huge heart for every kid she serves. She is able to support children and their families, and fights for the best possible outcome in any case.

Jessica has made an impact in the lives of many children through CASA and I believe she will continue to do so in the future! – Kaitlin Brasher

Board Member Spotlight – Evan Kelamis

Meet Evan!

Evan Kelamis is a long-time Tulsan who proudly owns and operates Savoy Restaurant. As the fourth-generation caretaker of a 100-year-old family establishment, Evan understands the importance of family values and dedication—and not to mention baking the best cinnamon rolls in Tulsa!

Evan has served on the CASA Board of Directors since 2014, and currently serves as our Board President. As CASA’s Board President, Evan works to preserve and promote best practices in our organization that will ensure CASA meets it’s long-term goals. Evan has ambitious goals to promote the growth of CASA and our resources to enable us to serve even more children than we currently do today.

When Evan is not busy fostering an environment of teamwork and strategic thinking amongst CASA’s leadership team, he continues to improve our community in many other faucets of philanthropic work. As the owner of Savoy Restaurant, he is proud that the landmark Tulsa establishment supports local community events and charities benefitting the St. John Health System, the Tulsa Zoo, the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, the Coffee Bunker, and Tulsa’s long-standing Oktoberfest tradition, to name a few.

Professionally, Evan also serves as the President Elect of Entrepreneurs’ Organization Tulsa and he is on the Food Advisory Council of the Tulsa Health Department.

Evan enjoys music and music history, as well as reading. Evan’s family, including his wife Elizabeth and their three young children, particularly enjoy spending time outdoors—often hiking, camping, and attending summer musical festivals and local events in Tulsa.

They are also preparing to grow their family by ten fingers and ten toes, welcoming another baby girl due to arrive in October! With all of his many personal, professional, and philanthropic endeavors, we are so lucky to have Evan as our 2018 Board President. Thank you for all that you do to ensure the stability and longevity of Tulsa CASA, Evan!

“Although it is cliché, children truly represent the future of our community. CASA offers an indispensable service to be the voice and the best advocate in the court system for children who are tragically neglected and abused. CASA volunteers change the lives and futures of the children who are most in need of our support.” – Evan Kelamis

A Note from our Executive Director

Evan’s tenure as board president has been an asset not only to the board, but to the CASA program as a whole.  He is committed to our mission and his devotion to board development and process improvement have strengthened the organization immeasurably.

I especially value Evan’s thoughtfulness and business acumen – the changes made under his leadership will positively impact CASA for years to come. – Maura Guten

 

Volunteer Spotlight – Kari McKee

Meet Kari!

Kari McKee has lived in Tulsa for 28 years and has always been engaged in the community. Two of Kari’s daughters are members of the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority, a fraternal organization that has supported CASA on a national level for over 25 years!

Although she was familiar with CASA through her daughters, Kari read about Tulsa CASA in a local newspaper and attended one of our Lunch and Learns over 2 years ago. She has been advocating for children inside and outside of the courtroom ever since!

Kari and her husband Sean have four children; Kelsey, Connor, Katherine and Caroline. Their family also includes a golden retriever named Tess and a yellow lab named Rorie.

Kari says that her occupation is being a full-time homebody, but she has many hobbies. When she is not working with children and the Safe Babies Court Team, Kari enjoys gardening, reading, and cooking. She also loves the beach when the weather is warm!

In past volunteer experiences, Kari has been very involved with her church and has also participated in a Reading Buddies program. Kari has truly made a difference in the cases that she advocates on, and we are so happy that she made the decision to dedicate her time and become a child’s Court Appointed Special Advocate. Thank you for advocating so passionately for the children on your cases, Kari!

“I talk to DHS and service providers, and visit with the natural parents and the foster family, just to get to know everyone involved in the baby’s life. CASA provides an unbiased set of eyes to evaluate what is best for the children involved in the proceedings. CASA is an additional resource for the court, to help the court make the best decisions possible.” — Kari McKee

A Note from her Advocate Manager

Kari is a wonderful volunteer! She has seen two children to permanency and continues to advocate thoroughly and objectively for her current CASA kiddo.

She consistently brings great information to court and expresses best interest clearly and skillfully. She has been an ideal addition to the CASA family as well as the Safe Babies Court Team. – Elizabeth Fisher

Volunteer Spotlight – Tina Bellamy

Meet Tina!

Tina Bellamy is one of our CASA’s who has been appointed to serve children in our Baby CASA
program. Baby CASA is part of Tulsa’s Safe Babies Court Team and focuses on children aged 0-3 paying special attention to infant mental health and the importance of forming secure emotional attachments during the first three years of life.

Through Tina’s work with the Safe Babies Court Team, she has witnessed how CASA impacts families, stating “CASA has been a lifesaver to so many parents. Without CASA, parents would be lost on having help to get their children back”.

When Tina is not attending hearings, visiting with caregivers, and offering support to families, she has many hobbies! She and her husband enjoying attending concerts and they like almost any genre of music. She also likes to take her dad fishing, and loves to attend Yoga class during the week.

Tina has been married to her husband for 25 years and she has 3 children, 2 dogs, 3 cats, and a bearded dragon! One little known fact about Tina is that she has many beautiful tattoos—but would like to continue adding more artwork!

Tina’s kind heart and her ability to stay upbeat in even the most difficult situation makes her such an asset to our Baby CASA program. Thank you for all that you do to lend support and encouragement to the families on your cases, Tina!

“After you see a child’s case close and reunification with the child’s parents, you will know it was worth all of your hard work and going to all of the meetings and court hearings. Try not be nervous—just do what you can and in the end you will not regret it” – Tina Bellamy

A Note from her Advocate Manager

Tina is a wonderful advocate. Her first case ended in a successful reunification with kiddo and parents.

Tina not only tirelessly advocated for her CASA child, but was instrumental in identifying and troubleshooting barriers for the parents. Her collaboration with other professionals on the case made her a great addition to the Safe Babies Court Team. – Elizabeth Fisher

Volunteer Spotlight – John Schmidt

Meet John!

John Schmidt is a retired computer software development manager who is no stranger to the needs of the community in Tulsa county. Having lived in the area for most of his life, he is very passionate about being involved in the community, and has volunteered with Tulsa C.A.R.E.S, Kendall-Whittier, and Circle Cinema—as well as serving on the board for Circle Cinema.

John has been a CASA since 2010 and has been with the youth on his current case for almost 8 years. Regarding his work on that case, John states “I am pleased to say that I’m the only person who has been in my kid’s life for all of the last 8 years, and he knows and appreciates it”.

When John is not spending time with his CASA kiddo, he enjoys traveling across the country—he went to 8 national parks last summer alone! He also enjoys playing golf and spending time at the gym when he is home.

His two grown children live out of state, but his cats, Stella and Gloria Jean, keep him company and travel along with him in the RV.

John understands that children in the system don’t have the security and comfort of a nuclear family like most kids, and wants to offer them whatever support he can to help them grow positively through this difficult time in their lives.

While his CASA youth will soon age out of the system, the support that John has extended will no doubt carry with him throughout his life. John exemplifies the CASA mission in so many ways. Thank you for your volunteerism, John, and for continuing to show your CASA kiddo that one person can make a huge impact in the life of another.

“Children in the foster care system feel isolated, but CASAs are able to provide consistency and support in their lives that may not exist otherwise. A CASA can stay aware of the child’s life and facilitate actions that that need to be taken.” – John Schmidt

A Note from his Advocate Manager

John has been serving the child on his case for nearly eight years. He is a perfect example of the consistency a CASA can bring to the life of a child in the foster care system.

His commitment and dedication are unwavering, and we are so thankful for all of the hard work he’s done in advocating for the best interests of his CASA kiddo. – Kylee Jenkins

Volunteer Spotlight – Michele Cordova

Meet Michele!

Michele Cordova is a dedicated CASA advocate who was searching for a meaningful volunteer experience after her daughter departed for college at OU in 2016.

Having participated in task-based volunteer activities for much of her life, Michele was looking for something that would keep her accountable and allow her to make a difference, and felt like CASA could provide that opportunity to her. We are so thankful that she chose to become a CASA volunteer!

As a Human Resource professional leading global payroll transformation efforts, Michele travels often and loves to learn about a culture through the local food and drink.

Aside from traveling domestically and abroad for work and being a CASA volunteer on three different cases, Michele likes to relax at home or cook in her free time. In addition, being a Sooner Mom has recently become one of her favorite hobbies!

Michele’s daughter and a few of her close friends describe her as “intentional, passionate, and loyal”. Michele lets these characteristics shine on her CASA cases by connecting personally with the child, such as asking how a concert or school assignment went since their last visit, and then casually asking about the “tough topics” to identify and address ALL of their potential needs.

We appreciate your advocacy, Michele, and we would describe your work with CASA kiddos as being very intentional, passionate, and loyal, as well!

“Tulsa is such a philanthropic community with opportunities to serve. But, it’s important to be honest with yourself about your WHY and WHAT. CASA fills a needed gap to provide realistic input, not a checklist or mandated perspective, to the court process. The connection with the children and families—both natural and foster—can be pivotal in helping smooth the process.” – Michele Cordova

A Note from her Advocate Manager

Michele is truly an outstanding advocate. It did not take her long to learn the ropes of being a CASA and she has made an impact for our program in so many ways.

Her ability to remain objective in all scenarios is remarkable and she never ceases to fight for the best interest of the children. Michele is able to create and maintain special relationships not only with the children but the entire family.

Her determination to fight for our most vulnerable children has made her an asset to our program. – Kaitlin Brasher

Volunteer Spotlight – Floyd Kirk

Meet Floyd!

Floyd Kirk was sworn in as a CASA advocate last fall, and although he has been a child advocate for just a few short months, he has made an enormous impact on the families he works with.

The foster parents of Floyd’s CASA children rave about how helpful he is — whether he is scheduling appointments, rocking the babies, or playing games with the older children on his case, they know that Floyd will be there week after week to assist in any way that he can.

Floyd is a retired educator who served as a teacher, coach, principal, AND superintendent! When he is not busy spending time with his 8 grandchildren and his 5 CASA kiddos, Floyd can be found serving his community in Glenpool through Church volunteerism, mentoring and tutoring elementary students, and serving on the Foundation board.

He also enjoys watching OSU sports, Thunder basketball, and Pro Baseball games. Floyd lives by a philosophy to “treat all children like they are your own child or grandchild” – and this is something that he consistently demonstrates on his CASA case.

If you see this advocate around town, please help us thank him for being such a dedicated volunteer…but be warned — he has an identical twin!

“Tulsa CASA provides a staff and volunteers that CARE about kids—they represent them at court and assist the foster parents; just being a ‘voice’ is huge for kids that need a CASA worker. Step up and volunteer wherever YOUR passion lies. Volunteers are needed everywhere.” – Floyd Kirk

A Note from his Advocate Manager

Floyd is a newer CASA who has jumped into his first case like a pro. He goes above and beyond on his case to make sure that his children’s best interests are heard by all involved.

He always has a huge smile on his face when he talks about his children, and it’s clear to anyone that he absolutely cares about them.

When I hear other professionals and foster parents brag about him and his hard work, I’m reminded that he’s a special CASA and I’m proud to be his supervisor. – Courtney Davis

Volunteer Spotlight – Susan Oare

Meet Susan!

Susan Oare came to Tulsa CASA in June of 2015 after a 40-year career in public education.
Working as an elementary school teacher and also a principal, Susan had the opportunity to interact with CASA’s, DHS, and the foster care system.

Having seen the commitment and passion those parties offered to support children, she promised herself that she would get involved.

Since retiring in 2014, she has participated in many volunteer activities; aside from being a child advocate, Susan also volunteers at the Jenks Aquarium and is an adjunct teacher at Tulsa Technology Center.

When she’s not busy advocating for foster children she can be found reading, spending time at the lake, and traveling—though you probably won’t see her traveling to an amusement park any time soon, a little known fact about Susan is that she is really scared of the rides!

Susan also enjoys spending time with her friends and family, as well as their spoiled dog, Sassy. Susan describes herself as being very family-oriented, and she always puts her husband, Tom, and their two grown children, Mark and Amy, first.

This quality is something that she brings into her volunteer experiences as well. Susan’s compassion for others, respect for families, and dedication to her CASA cases could only be described as putting others first. We are lucky to have a volunteer who is so passionate about our program—thank you for all that you do!

“CASA’s provide the children of Tulsa with a voice and a positive future…I have discovered that when I am involved with a case, the children are always a part of my thoughts.” – Susan Oare

A Note from her Advocate Manager

Susan is an experienced CASA volunteer who brings so much to her work with our children and families.  She approaches each case with a can do attitude.  She is very driven to make a difference and she truly has!

Susan has the ability to turn even the most difficult situation around, which in the end truly benefits the children and families.

Susan is a trusted confidant, a caring support and a passionate advocate for those with whom she works.  Her very presence, warm smile and friendly greetings impact her work and make her highly effective as a CASA.

I can’t think of a case that could not benefit from Susan’s amazing talents and skills, she is one in a million and we are so grateful she is continuing her life’s work of child advocacy as a volunteer for CASA. – Julie Blake

New Advocates
November 2016

Thank you to these 7 people who are ready to take on the role of child advocate! Tulsa CASA is proud to have you!
Join them! Apply online or RSVP for our January lunch and learn!