More than 165 people celebrated ten years of making a difference at the Passaic County CASA “Voices for Children Gala” on Friday, Oct. 13, at Preakness Hills Country Club in Wayne. Passaic County CASA, which is based in Wayne, is the only organization in Passaic County that trains and supervises volunteer advocates to speak up for children who have been removed from home due to abuse or neglect.
"The Voices for Children Gala was a wonderful evening of delicious food and great music, just a perfect celebration of our 10th anniversary,” Executive Director Erica Fischer-Kaslander said. “But most importantly, we raised more than $105,000, which is enough to sponsor 54 children in foster care next year. That's 54 fewer children on our waiting list, 54 children who will now have the benefit of an advocate to ensure they don't get lost in an overburdened child welfare system."
The evening included music by New Jersey favorite band Daddy Pop, an inspirational video, and a photo booth. The undeniable star of the night, however, was Tommy Williams, a former foster and CASA child from Passaic County. Williams was born to a drug addicted mother and spent the first eight years of his life being shuffled around the foster care system. He struggled with some hearing issues, and was able to communicate very little.
A permanent home did not seem to be in the cards for Williams, until CASA volunteer Ann Rose was assigned to his case. During the four years that Rose advocated for Williams, she found him the perfect forever home. Williams is now thriving with his new family – he even gave a brief speech at the gala.
“I am happy now! Thank you to CASA,” Williams said, while standing at the podium with Rose and his mother, Martha.
Since 2007, CASA has grown in leaps and bounds. Ten years ago, CASA had one employee who worked out of a single cubicle in Paterson. Today, CASA is housed in a 2,500 square foot office space and boasts eight staff members and 75 trained volunteers. During the past 10 years, CASA advocates supported 575 children in the Passaic County foster care system.
To view more photos from the gala, click here