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The Rolla Daily News - Rolla, MO
  • About 120 attend 4th annual Justice IS Served breakfast

  • Nine judges from the 25th Circuit Court served up a full-line breakfast to about 120 guests at the Missouri University of Science and Technology’s Havener Center at the fourth annual Justice IS Served event.
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  • Nine judges from the 25th Circuit Court served up a full-line breakfast to about 120 guests at the Missouri University of Science and Technology’s Havener Center at the fourth annual Justice IS Served event.
    Held April 17, the breakfast is a major fundraiser for Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for children in south central Missouri.
    The judges who served breakfast included Missouri Appellate Court Judge Mary Sheffield and Circuit Judges Ken Clayton, Ron White, Bill Hickle, Ronda Cortesini, Kerry Rowden, Colin Long, Greg Warren and Senior Judge John Wiggins.
    “There are children, through no fault of their own, who have been removed from their home because of abuse, neglect, emotional issues or other circumstances,” said Judge Ken Clayton, the featured speaker for the event.
    “The CASA program provides the support from everyday, ordinary people who see the need and are willing to take action to help these kids who are positive role models, friends and mentors. These CASA volunteers are true heroes. The CASA kids are not even their (volunteers’) own but become their own through the relationships and trust that is built between them.”
    Clayton stressed the need for more support for CASA because the program is expanding to meet the needs of children in the 25th Judicial Circuit.
    “There are more children that need a CASA and now is the perfect time. We have a class beginning in May,” Clayton said, referring to the beginning of a training program that all CASA volunteers must take before entering the program. A judge will swear in the newly training volunteers and the cases will be assigned.
    “We try to match each child with a compatible volunteer to achieve the best possible relationship,” said CASA Volunteer Coordinator Leigh Ann Sigman. “The volunteers are well screened with background checks, fingerprinting and receive a 30-hour training session with ongoing training as they move through the program.”
    The 25th Judicial Circuit serves Phelps, Texas, Maries and Pulaski counties, and currently there are 92 children in Phelps and Texas counties and 41 CASA volunteers.
    “We are working with children in Phelps and Texas counties right now, but there are more children in these other counties that also need our services,” said Sigman.
    CASA presented Warren a certificate of appreciation for his 20 years of serving on the bench and working with families.
    “If, as a judge, we’re doing what is in the best interest of the children, then we’re doing our job,” he said. “CASA plays a key role in the process.”
    The organization is always looking for volunteers who are willing to give approximately 10 hours a month to a child, get to know that child and speak up for that child. CASA volunteers are appointed by a judge to represent the child.
    Page 2 of 2 - “We need all the information that we can get,” said Clayton. “When we are making a decision that will affect that child for the rest of his or her life, the more information we have, the better. CASA gives us that extra information that may prove to be critical is making those decisions.”
    For donations or more information, visit the CASA office at the Phelps County Courthouse, 200 N. Main St., Suite 242, call 573-458-6240, email casaphel@fidnet.com or visit the CASA website at www.casascmo.org.

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