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New CASA volunteers Cynthia Wheeler, Sonja Good Stefani, Elise Byers, Michael Marques and Barry Ginter with Judge Karen Ostrye, third from right.

Columbia Gorge CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) recently added five new child advocates: Elise Byers, Sonja Good Stefani, and Cynthia Wheeler, Hood River; Barry Ginter, The Dalles; and Michael Marques, Husum. 

After completing 32 hours of training, the group was sworn into duty by the Honorable Karen Ostrye on Nov. 6. Ostrye welcomed the newest advocates into duty and described many of the attributes she feels CASAs bring to the court, as well as pertinent information concerning a child that CASAs bring to the court’s attention. 

CASA volunteers are appointed by judges to watch over and advocate for children placed in the foster care system. CASAs advocate for the needs and wellbeing of children through professionally trained and supported community volunteers, facilitating that children are heard, receive support through needed services, and reside in loving, safe, permanent homes in a timely manner, said a CASA press release.

“CASAs have the tremendous privilege, and responsibility, to have a positive impact in a child’s case,” said the press release. 

More than 428,000 children are in foster care in any given day in the United States, and more than 260,000 children have a CASA advocating for their best interests, with more than 86,000 CASA volunteers helping to change children’s lives every year. 

Columbia Gorge CASA serves children in Hood River, Wasco and Sherman counties; advocates serve children in care so that they might have the chance to live and develop in a safe, nurturing environment. 

Volunteers receive 32 hours of pre-service training using the National CASA Volunteer Training Curriculum. New advocate training sessions will begin in January. If you are interested in learning more about the CASA program please contact Michelle Mayfield, training coordinator, or Susan Baldwin, volunteer manager, at 541-386-3468; more information can additionally be found at  www.gorgecasa.org.

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