Advocacy in Action: Jaylynn Milstein

Posted by CASA on February 1, 2017 Newsroom

Milstein, Jaylynn

About me:

I’m a pediatrician, and have always felt honored to be a part of childrens’ and families’ lives. As I start to transition from having a pediatric practice, I wanted to volunteer in a way in which I could still advocate for children. Being a CASA lets me help those kids who need a voice, and my background may help in particular in cases where a foster child may have medical issues.

I grew up in the Midwest and moved to Eugene almost ten years ago from Wisconsin. I have two college-aged kids and enjoy sports, reading and traveling.

What is something you have learned from your case?

I’ve learned that no matter how much a parent may love their child; sometimes it is just not enough. My CASA kid has major medical issues, and his mother is just not able to keep him healthy. For this child, his life depends on it. I’ve also been humbled in that I’ve seen that just because a parent/family/foster parent does not live like I do, that there are many ways to love kids and keep them safe. Being a CASA and going through CASA training has forced me to confront some of my preconceived notions and my judgments.

How did having a CASA make a difference for the CASA child in your case?

I think my background helped translate for the court the medical needs of my CASA child. I definitely think that our CASA reports are more readable and concise than some of the paperwork that is necessarily in a child’s file. Our reports are an important resource for the court. I think having a CASA made a difference for my child because I was able to help focus attention on the plan. And I think he likes my company and my Lego-building skills!

In your opinion, what does it take to be a good CASA volunteer?

I think first and foremost, a CASA volunteer needs to be there for the child. We need to remember that though it may be clear to us that a child can’t reunite with their parent that children most often want to be with their parent. We need to have empathy for our CASA kids. They face challenges and harbor sadness that we may never understand. We must also be conscientious and follow through with our visits and reports. We need to be dependable and someone that kids can count on.

Jaylynn became a CASA in Spring 2016 and currently advocates on two cases,
one for a two-year-old boy and one for an eight-year old boy. Thank you, Jaylynn!

A Note from Honorary Chair, Dr. Brad Chvatal

Posted by CASA on February 3, 2016 Newsroom

Brad Chvatal_photo with carI’m really getting excited about CASA Casino Night this Friday! It’s always one of the best events of the year. And this year, I get to be a part of the action other than just supporter! Being asked to be the Honorary Chairman for CASA’s Casino Night truly is an honor. I’m grateful to be a part of CASA and the amazing group of people – in all areas- that make the organization not only run–but thrive–in our community.

As an orthodontist here in Eugene, I have been blessed by our community in so many ways. We have always tried to support local charities and schools to “give-back” to the community. Several years ago, I made a decision to choose a cornerstone charity to partner with and make a larger, more precise, and more meaningful impact. This Friday, I am going to share the reasons I chose CASA of Lane County as that organization.

I look forward to seeing you at Casino Night. Make sure you arrive ready for a great evening benefiting a great organization!

– Dr. Brad Chvatal, Title Sponsor and Honorary Chair

Get your Casino Night tickets here!

From the Development Suite

Posted by CASA on January 28, 2016 Newsroom

Super Bowl 50It’s a new year, and we are in full swing at CASA! We have a lot of faces you recognize and a few new ones as well. In our Development Suite (aka the former mud room of our fabulous farm house), our team is running on all cylinders. Ninkasi generously donated a Super Bowl 50 commercial spot to CASA of Lane County, so in addition to gearing up for our 12th Casino Night, we are also learning how to make a Super Bowl commercial! So many of you follow CASA on Facebook, receive our newsletters, come to events, and/or read our blog (obviously). This is such a unique opportunity to reach people in Lane County who will be excited to hear about CASA and the fabulous work we do! And just wait until you see our guest star! Keep an eye on the Facebook page for some hints 😉

(Have you liked our Facebook page? If not, do that now. I’ll wait.)

On a personal note, I am humbled and so grateful for each and every one who supports our mission. From my amazing co-workers to our phenomenal CASAs to our incredible sponsors and fabulous community supporters. You are all so inspiring! I will continue doing my best to support you as you continue to make an impact in the lives of our most vulnerable children.

I hope to see you on the 5th at Casino Night — please come up and introduce yourself!

Katie Gatlin
Director of Development and Communications

Megan Mondays: The Next Chapter

Posted by CASA on August 31, 2015 Our Former Executive Director, Megan

megan-mondays2My morning alarm goes off, I sit up in bed and as my feet hit the floor I know whether I am ready to take on the day or if it is going to be a struggle. As I start my way downstairs, I begin to think about what is on my “plate” for the day. Appointments, meetings, reports, phone calls, etc. Is the day going to be typical, special or challenging? Is it a “mission impossible day” or one “full of possibilities?” I learned early on my journey with CASA that it was better if I chose to start my day with a positive outlook because most days the mission of CASA felt impossible.

I was really naïve about the plight of children, the struggles families faced and the dysfunction of the system when I joined the CASA staff 15 years ago. Newborn babies were being placed in foster care, teenagers were running from it and some children were dying before the state intervened. At times, it felt like things were happening at lightning speed in system that was cumbersome, confusing and wound tightly in red tape. Early on, I remember sitting at my desk feeling overwhelmed, disillusioned and defeated and then I met our CASA volunteers and all that changed.  Continue Reading…

Caleb, 6 months old

Posted by CASA on July 7, 2015 CASA Children

file0001085844019_cropCaleb was six months old when he was placed into foster care with a caring relative. Both of Caleb’s parents abused Methamphetamines, and Caleb was born drug-affected. He had a hard time sleeping because his muscles were tightly wound from the drugs, and once in foster care he began physical therapy.

Andrea was appointed to be Caleb’s CASA volunteer. She visited him regularly and monitored everything going on in his life, talking to counselors and researching the effects of Meth on infants. Child Welfare wanted to close Caleb’s case early on, but Andrea was adamant that his parents needed more time to become stable. The court agreed with Andrea. This extra time was critical in helping the mother and father to build their circles of support and mature as parents. Continue Reading…

Megan Mondays: Behind Every Number is a Child

Posted by CASA on June 8, 2015 Our Former Executive Director, Megan

numbers-151354_640A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to be a part of a panel presentation at the City Club of Eugene.  The topic was “Changing Lives in Juvenile Court.” The presenter included our juvenile court judge, a caseworker from child protective services and me.  I began my presentation with the statistics below because I believe they are a powerful and provide critical context to any conversation about child abuse.

I believe that by the time a child ends up on the doorsteps of a foster home there have been multiple failures of our systems, our community and the adults that are responsible for keeping children safe.  There is not a person or a specific system that bears the entire burden or blame.  This is everyone’s problem collectively and individually.  We are all responsible to keep all children safe.  We can and we must do better, before child protective services is called to intervene; and, then, we must do everything in our power to get children out of the system as quickly and as safely as possible. Educating ourselves about the realities of families who are struggling and/or unable to keep their children safe is critical.  It is also important to understand what happens when systems and support fail and children and youth end up in juvenile dependency court. Continue Reading…

Meet Joanne Pedersen, CASA Volunteer

Posted by CASA on June 4, 2015 CASA Volunteers

Pederson, JoannePassion, dedication and a commitment to her CASA kid is what makes Joanne Pedersen an ideal CASA volunteer. After witnessing what children in foster care go through in the court system, Joanne knew she was meant to be a CASA.

Who is Joanne Pedersen?

Joanne Pedersen is a full-time Practice Manager at Willamette Dental Group. She has a warm smile and an infectious laugh. She is an avid reader and enjoys spending time with her family and friends.

Why did Joanne become a CASA volunteer?

Joanne feels that working in the dental field has a lot of rewards, but she wanted to do something that would make a difference in the life of a child.  Joanne says, “I started working in the dental field to pay for graduate school, but I always envisioned that I would work with children. CASA gives me the opportunity to focus on kids.” Continue Reading…

Meet Kelsey Beyer, CASA Volunteer

Posted by CASA on May 21, 2015 CASA Volunteers

KelseyBeyerBetween caring for family, working full time, speaking at numerous CASA events, and being a Peer Coordinator, Kelsey Beyer is busy but she wouldn’t have it any other way. She tells us she is going to volunteer for CASA until she is 100 years old!

Who is Kelsey Beyer?

Kelsey is a full-time Practice Manager at Willamette Dental Group. She also helps to care for her 92 year old grandmother and is helping to raise her teenage niece. Kelsey is not one to say no to helping others. Recently, a friend called and asked her to help catch a stray cat and her litter of kittens. Kelsey found herself with a flashlight at 11 p.m. searching neighborhood bushes for the cat and kittens.

Kelsey has been a CASA volunteer since 2010 and a Peer Coordinator (PC) for the last 4 years. PCs are experienced CASAs who have been trained to coach a small team of CASA volunteers. They provide support and direction when needed. Kelsey says, “As a PC, you’re coaching and cheerleading so that the CASA doesn’t feel alone on their case and has the support she/he needs.” PCs also provide back-up in the event that a CASA is unable to attend a meeting or a hearing due to illness or scheduling conflicts.

Why did Kelsey become a CASA volunteer? Continue Reading…

Megan Mondays: Passing the Torch

Posted by CASA on May 18, 2015 Our Former Executive Director, Megan

megan-mondays2I have always said I would know when it was time to leave CASA.  I’ve determined that the time is now. After fifteen inspiring, challenging and meaningful years at the helm of CASA, it is time for me to move on.  It was a difficult decision to make because I LOVE CASA.  I love the mission and all the people who are committed to our community’s most vulnerable children.

And, it is difficult to leave because the work is not finished. There are still hundreds of children in Lane County that are caught in the bureaucratic system we call child protective services. They do not have the powerful voice of a Court Appointed Special Advocate.The burden of advocating for these children continues to weigh heavily on my shoulders and my heart.   Continue Reading…

The Buzz

Posted by CASA on April 27, 2015 Our Former Executive Director, Megan

beehiveI walked into work today and the office felt like a beehive of activity.  The energy level was through the roof and it was only 8:00 a.m.  When talking about CASA, I often say, “I need your time and/or your money.”  Ultimately, it is my responsibility to ensure we have the funds we need to support the mission and the volunteers we need to deliver the program.

Volunteers are a diverse group.  Some people want to be in the trenches. They make the commitment to CASA training and the subsequent ten to fifteen volunteer hours a month for at least two years.  These are the people who can give their time to be a Court Appointed Special Advocate volunteer.  They have big shoes to fill because they are the volunteers that carry out the critical mission of CASA, one case at a time.  They are the volunteers that people think about when they hear the word “CASA.”  Continue Reading…

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