April 14, 2005 – Around 60 people celebrated the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program and the hope it offers for children Thursday night in Christiansted.
Gail Shearer, CASA executive director, said, "People come because they want to help. We hear about the bad things that happen on the islands. This is something good."
Youngsters from various schools across the island were recognized for their contributions in CASA's major fund-raiser Pennies from Heaven.
In a moving ceremony, called Light of Hope, where many hugs and smiles were exchanged, participants were asked to "light a candle of help, for each heart in need, a candle for each compassionate deed."
After Shearer made opening remarks, a piece entitled "Why Families Should Stay Together" was read by youngster Luz Elenia Rivera.
Another youngster Trevon Nelson performed the poem "Speak For Me." It says, "Speak for me, I have no voice, Speak for me, I have no choice, I'm counting on you to carry me through, I'm feeling so lost and all alone."
Also honored were the students who designed CASA Christmas Cards. They were Kelvin Cepeda, Kwasi Browne, Dylan Eddy, Clarise Maxwell, Emily Gryce, Christopher Ashley, Imami Sidiropolous Kearny, Eric Norton, Michael Allen, Noel Roberts Jr., Dylan Genest, Eve Watterson, Kean Ruiz, Stacey Hicks, Ashlee douglas, Denisha Hodge, Marcos Herrera, Nemicio Camacho, Kimberly Alleyne, Kirk Rojas, Sabrina Mirpuri and Laurenn Harcrow.
Sen. Pedro "Pete" Encarnacion attended the event. He told Shearer, "What you do is outstanding."
He said, "CASA deals with kids and I support it." He added that when he was campaigning his office was next door to the CASA office, which is in Golden Rock, across from Subway. He said he and his wife came to appreciate all the people that worked in that office.
Shearer said there were a lot of friends of CASA in the audience. She said, "They come because they believe in what we do."
The local CASA program has about 30 volunteers who are assigned to cases. CASA volunteers are trained advocates appointed by judges to be a voice for neglected and abused children in court. They also help ensure that these children find foster homes.
For more information about CASA or the Light of Hope event, contact Shearer at 719-2272 .
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