Yuma Program Coordinator finds success recruiting in churches
Recruiting new CASA volunteers can be tough -- and each county faces its own unique set of challenges.
But CASA of Yuma County Program Coordinator Dennis O'Rourke said the faith-based community is helping to change that for him. In fact, O'Rourke credits the church community for about 65 percent of his new CASA volunteers.
"Most people that go to church, they truly have good hearts and believe in protecting and helping children," O'Rourke said. "They throw down the red carpet when you come in there because they want to help abused and neglected children."
From January to April in 2013, O'Rourke plans to present and set up tables at 10 churches in Yuma County. He has either called or sent an e-mail to every church in the county and has visited a number of different faiths. O'Rourke also attends and speaks at the end of Catholic Spanish mass.
"One of Dennis' strengths is his ability to reach out to the community and build relationships," said Deputy Director of Juvenile Court Services Jolene Hefner. "This ability has opened doors, allowing him to recruit more volunteers than the program has seen in the last few years. Dennis also takes every opportunity to promote the CASA program and this has resulted in increased public awareness and dedicated volunteers."
A former life insurance sales representative, O'Rourke enjoys the challenge of going out into the community and recruiting volunteers. He is especially excited to do the recruiting work he loves for the specific benefit of abused and neglected children.
"Once you get in the door and start talking about CASA, it's easy," O'Rourke said. "I'm not nervous in the churches because oftentimes I'm sharing a message that the person I'm talking to believes in as much as I do."
O'Rourke has developed a system for his church outreach that involves some work before, during and after a presentation.
He said that if he gets around 60 people who express interest and if he is able to reach them for follow up, then it will usually result in a meeting with about 20 people, interviews with about eight people and approximately six will end up at the academy.
"It's pretty amazing because when I go out to the churches to speak, I'll hear the priests, the deacons, the pastors talking about me during their sermons," O'Rourke said. "They'll let everyone know that Dennis from CASA is here and then they'll speak to the importance of helping abused and neglected children."
Christopher Johnson, Ph.D. has been volunteering with CASA of Yuma County for about a year-and-a-half and is impressed by the way O'Rourke successfully balances his recruiting efforts with making sure his volunteers have what they need.
"He approaches his role at the grassroots level," Johnson said. "He not only keeps our primary goal in mind, but also the volunteers who support that goal. He has been a strong program recruiter and his service to the program is solid."
For program coordinators who are looking to increase faith-based recruiting efforts in their counties, Dennis O'Rourke has offered to be a resource. He can be reached at [email protected]
CASA of Maricopa County Program Director Appointed to Board
CASA of Maricopa County Program Director Laurie Laughlin has been appointed as chair for the Confidential Intermediary Board. The role requires a two-year commitment. The Confidential Intermediary Program was established in 1992 and certifies Confidential Intermediaries (CIs) through the Certification and Licensing Division of the Arizona Supreme Court. CIs provide a service to help facilitate contact between parties of an adoption or siblings separated as a result of a dependency action.
CASA Volunteer Spotlight:
Maricopa County CASA volunteer commits hundreds of hours to her case
Yolanda Josey is a busy grandmother and full-time mail carrier for the U.S. Postal Service, but that doesn't stop her making time for her CASA children.
Josey, a CASA volunteer in Maricopa County, has been working on the same case for more than two years and has formed a special bond with the children for whom she advocates.
"I would rather give up a couple of hours of sleep so that I can sleep a little easier knowing that my CASA child had a smile on his face today," Josey said. "Too many of these children do not have a reason to smile at all."
Josey became a CASA volunteer in early 2010 while she was working part-time. As the oldest of nine children, she spent years helping care for her younger siblings, and with her own children grown, she was ready to spend her time volunteering. Josey discovered CASA on volunteermatch.com, along with a number of other opportunities to help children.
"I looked at other options, but I kept coming back to CASA," Josey said.
Although her role has required her to travel lengthy distances and her case has been difficult, Josey is still glad that she chose CASA.
Walter Menges, who is Josey's peer coordinator for CASA of Maricopa County, describes Josey as persistent and hardworking in her role as a volunteer.
"Yolanda is extremely dedicated to her child and is relentless in her advocacy," Menges said. "She has put in well over 400 hours of time and has literally traveled thousands of miles."
Josey said that being a CASA volunteer with a full-time job is a challenge, but she can't imagine not being a part of the lives of her appointed children.
"The amount of time it takes seems like nothing compared to the good you can do for this child," Josey said. "Each time the child has to start over with a new case manager, teacher, foster parent or anyone, it's hard on them. You can be the one to fill in the blanks for the new person and make yet another change go a little easier on the child."
CASA of Arizona thanks Josey for her outstanding work as a volunteer and her commitment to her CASA child! Know an amazing volunteer? Let us know by e-mailing [email protected]!