News

“I love being a consistent voice for my children.”

Volunteer Profile
Candace Eardley

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A few years ago, Candace Eardley was talking to a friend who had recently become a CASA volunteer in Essex County. Candace was instantly intrigued.
“I always thought it was something I wanted to do,” she said.
Candace, a Totowa resident and former Little Falls resident, began the Passaic County CASA volunteer training program in March 2015 and became a sworn Court Appointed Special Advocate two months later. She now advocates for seven children, whose ages range from one year to 14 years old.
Prior to becoming a CASA volunteer, Candace had a long career in the travel industry. During her career, Candace owned a travel agency and created spring break trips for high school students who were learning a foreign language, which led her to her husband, who was a Spanish and French teacher.
 As an avid reader and a huge fan of book clubs, Candace makes sure that her CASA children are doing well in school. One of Candace's cases involved a pre-teen boy who was struggling in school. Through CASA, Candace advocated for a tutoring program.
"I assisted in locating various programs and eventually one was chosen," she said. "The child's grades began to improve." 
Candace encouraged reading and for his birthday, through CASA, she was able to coordinate his birthday gift to include some books that she knew he would enjoy. She was delighted when she knew he had read them.
"He even began taking out books from the school library," she said. 
Candace finds the CASA volunteer responsibilities interesting (“I am fascinated with the working of the family court system,” Candace said) as well as rewarding.
“I love being a consistent voice for my children.”

To become an advocate for children and teens in foster care, RSVP for an upcoming informational session here.

CASA grants holiday gift wishes to hundreds of children

More than 800 children received gifts this holiday season through CASA's annual holiday gift drive.

Thank you to the many individuals and families who sponsored children's wishes this year, and thank you to local businesses and organizations who held gift drives throughout Passaic County: 

A Second Opinion, Allied Beverage Group, Atlantic Stewardship Bank, Barnes & Noble, CUMAC, Cornerstone Church, G&S Financial Services LLC, Kean University Junior Class, Lafayette Elementary School, Livingston Ladies Bowling Club, The Max Challenge of Basking Ridge, McElrone Sales Inc., Moms Club of Wayne, Mountain View Chapter Order of the Eastern Star, Park Street School, Passaic County Sheriff's Office Family Court, Passaic County Education Association, Precision Payroll Services, Inc., Quilting for a Cause, Ramada Inn Wayne, Raymond Alexander Associates, Stagelight Centre of Performing Arts, Trapanese & Trapanese Attorneys at Law, Tri-County Chamber of Commerce, Village School, Wayne Hills High School National Art Honor Society, Wayne Hills High School National Honor Society, Westmount Country Club, Willowbrook Mall Management

Seven advocates-in-training become Court Appointed Special Advocates

Seven volunteers were sworn in on Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017, as official Court Appointed Special Advocates in a ceremony hosted by Passaic County Superior Court Judge Vicki Citrino.

Each advocate had to complete 36 hours of training before becoming a sworn CASA. Next up: these seven CASAs will receive their first case and begin advocating for children in the foster care system.

Congrats, everyone!

“They just need to know someone is in their corner”

Volunteer Profile
Rich Rolek

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Rich Rolek can’t believe that it has been almost six years since he was sworn in as a Court Appointed Special Advocate.
“Time flies,” Rolek said.
Around Christmas time in 2011, Rolek caught a news segment about a father who threw his two-year-old daughter into a river. The toddler was still strapped into her car seat.
From that moment, Rolek knew he wanted to help.
Since then, Rolek has been a steady CASA volunteer. During the past six years, Rolek has worked primarily with teenagers; he has advocated for seven boys in foster care, ranging from middle-school age to high school seniors. Between college applications, football practices, and getting a driver’s license, Rolek has been present for all the typical teenage milestones, which he feels is incredibly important.
“Most of them haven’t had a male role model most of their life,” Rolek said.
Rolek’s presence in their lives is particularly crucial because of their ages. Many teenagers in foster care are never adopted and end up aging out of the foster care system. To help them prepare for their approaching adulthood, Rolek coordinates with their guidance counselors to make sure they’re doing well in school (and helps find them tutoring if they aren’t), teaches them the importance of a budget, and prepares them for college and eventually a career.
He also instills hope.
“More than anything else, I tell them that they have their whole future ahead of them,” Rolek said.
Through monthly visits to encouraging text messages, Rolek makes sure that his teens know that he is there for them.
“They just need to know someone is in their corner.”


To become an advocate for children and teens in foster care, RSVP for an upcoming informational session here.