Several years ago, Kym Matthews met former CASA volunteer and current Michigan CASA employee, Janice Fonger at a networking “power lunch” hosted by WGVU radio host Shelley Irwin. For Kym, this was the introduction into a community she is now passionate about.
On April 27, 330 volunteers, donors, board members, staff, and guests gathered at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park for CASA of Kent County’s largest event to date.
Attendees came together to hear multiple people share their experiences with CASA. During the program, 17th Circuit Family Court Judge Patrick Hillary discussed how helpful he finds CASA reports when making case decisions. CASA volunteer Marni Vyn described what it was like connecting to her CASA child. Finally, four students from Godwin Heights High School read stories from the perspectives of real teens whose lives have been impacted by abuse and neglect and who are currently waiting for CASA volunteers.
The event was an emotional and impactful reminder of the effect a court-appointed special advocate can have on a child’s life.
This year’s luncheon was special for many reasons: the new location, the record-breaking number of guests, and both new and familiar faces in the crowd. One of the most notable features of the event was the partnership between CASA and Godwin Heights High School, which was facilitated by Kent School Services Network. Earlier this year, CASA’s executive director, Stephanie Sheler, and program manager, Kari Frederick, visited Ms. Christina Williams’ practical law class at Godwin Heights to give a presentation on the family court system, foster care, and the advocacy role of CASAs. Then the entire class attended the luncheon as a field trip. Four talented students even volunteered to participate in the luncheon program.
Luncheon 2023 by the Numbers
Attendees who expressed an interest in volunteering
Total individual/household donors
Thank you, sponsors!
- The Jeff & Cheryl Baker Family Foundation
- Grand Rapids Crane Company
- Jeff & Peg Padnos
- Linen & Lime Co.
- Key Bank
- Blackwell Insurance Services
- West Bend Mutual Insurance Company
- Creston Industrial Sales
- Giordano Law, PLC
- West Michigan Community Bank
- Hungerford Nichols
- Lumberman’s Inc.
This article is part of the Summer 2023 edition of CASA Connect, CASA of Kent County’s quarterly newsletter. Click here to view a pdf version of this newsletter.
For 35 years, local accounting firm EHTC has devoted its annual golf outing, Chipping for Chairty, to raising money for community organizations. Our staff and board of directors were ecstatic when CASA of Kent County selected as the company’s official charity partner for 2023.
CASA volunteers commit time throughout the year to advocate for children, so we love to throw a proper party to express our gratitude for their hard work.
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