Happening in Kansas City
Trending around OUTvoices
Imagine how difficult it is to be an abused or neglected child who has been removed from your home and placed under court protection. Now, imagine the added challenges of being a LGBT youth in that situation.
The special needs of these children are now being addressed by volunteers from Jackson County Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), who advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected kids under court protection – over 1,000 children this year. More volunteers are desperately needed.
Through contact with the child, family members, and other interested parties, a CASA volunteer provides critical information to the judge so that the best possible decisions can be made regarding where an abused/neglected child should live and what medical, educational, and therapeutic services they need.
“These kids are struggling because they’re foster kids. Being LGBT just compounds their struggles,” says Karrie Duke, Jackson County CASA’s director of volunteer programs. “We went for years without having any kids identify themselves as LGBT. Now we have several CASA kids who are trying to figure out if they’re LGBT, some have said they’re gay, and one … is transitioning sexes.”
Duke has led Jackson County CASA’s efforts to educate volunteers about working with LGBT youth. A recent continuing education program on the topic drew the largest attendance in Jackson County CASA’s history. And information about how to work with LGBT youth and find community resources has been integrated into the training for all new CASA volunteers.
Duke has a particular understanding of the struggles that LGBT youths face. Growing up in a conservative farm community, Duke knew by the time she was a teenager that she “was different and it was not OK.” After moving to the city and seeing other people living openly gay, positive lives, she left her 17-year marriage and, at age 36, came out. Her family still does not accept it.
“With this younger generation, they are so much more comfortable and are coming out. The kids are more accepted by their peers,” Duke says.
M. Courtney Koger, a former CASA volunteer and current board member, agrees. “When I was a teenager, being gay was so far off the radar it didn’t occur to me. Now, our culture is more open and accepting, and the existence of gay people is not so hidden. And what I think is happening is that children, teenagers, young adults are realizing and able to name and act on their feelings at a much younger age. And I hope that, as acceptance for the gay community grows, that the process is not quite as agonizing and questioning as it used to be, but I also am glad I’m not in junior high and having to go through it myself again.”
Koger, a partner at Kutak Rock LLP, became involved with Jackson County CASA as a volunteer attorney. One of her cases involved the Division of Family Services (now Children’s Division) not only removing children from the home but also taking a newborn from the hospital before the parents could flee with her.
“I think we saved that little girl’s life,” Koger says.
“A lot of what I do on a daily basis involves large companies and somebody’s money, but it’s very rare that anything I do directly involves a life. So to be able to make a concrete change — not in just the youngest girl’s life, but in all of her siblings’ lives — by getting them out of an abusive situation and into a healthier, happier, more supportive environment, that’s something I don’t get to do on a daily basis. And it’s not something I want to do on a daily basis because I don’t think I’m tough enough to handle it and have to make those kinds of calls and have those kinds of responsibilities every day. But when you work with CASA, you do have that chance to be that involved in one, two, three or more siblings’ lives in ways you just can’t do somewhere else.”
“It’s the best thing I’ve ever done. It’s the most pure,” says Cheryl Dobbe, who has been a CASA volunteer for three years. “You can’t expect anything back. You find things in yourself you didn’t know you could give.”
Dobbe says that one of the children she worked with had exactly one adult in their life who wasn’t a paid professional – her. “There is no other adult in this child’s life that is not paid to be there. I think that’s about the saddest thing in the whole world.”
“You can’t sit there and say somebody should do something about that because I am somebody. You are somebody,” Dobbe says.
Although each case is different, a CASA volunteer usually spends about 10 hours a month meeting with the child, speaking with others involved, and attending meetings or court hearings. Hours are flexible and can be completed within the limits of even the most hectic schedule. There is no need for any special skills or education – just a background check, training, and a heart for helping children.
Children who have a CASA volunteer to advocate for them are half as likely to be re-abused and re-enter the court system, more likely to receive timely and appropriate health and behavioral services and to be placed in a permanent, safe home. For 2012, 95 percent of children who had one of these advocates had not re-entered the Jackson, Johnson or Wyandotte County courts. Every dollar spent on CASA yields $23 in savings in the foster care and family court systems.
Last year, Jackson, Johnson and Wyandotte Counties had 4,091 abused/neglected children under court protection but only enough volunteers to serve one-third of them. CASA’s goal is to provide a volunteer for every abused and neglected child in the system.
In addition to serving CASA children directly as an advocate, there are other ways to volunteer, including helping with the annual Light of Hope breakfast and Carnival for CASA fundraisers. The Heartland Men’s Chorus is scheduled to perform at the Wednesday, April 9, 2014, Light of Hope, the city’s largest breakfast event, at the Sheraton Crown Center.
Koger, who volunteered at the recent Carnival for CASA, says that to see the resiliency of abused and neglected children who now feel safe and to watch them enjoying a carefree day of fun is incredibly rewarding and reinforces the demonstrated impact that CASA volunteers make in the children’s lives.
“To see that kind of happiness and the love and support that those children are receiving in appropriate settings that they have been able to reach or stay in with CASA’s help, and to see what’s possible for children who come from a very disadvantaged place where — whether it’s neglect or actual outright abuse — to know that it’s possible for them to become those happy, smiling children running around Carnival, when you see it up close like that it has more of an impact. I understand that we all have other things to do in our lives, but when you can see the actual impact that something you’re doing has on the lives of children, that, to me, is what seals the deal.”
For more information about volunteering, visit www.casakc.org, call Jackson County CASA at 816-984-8204, or stop by their booth Oct. 4-5 at the “Out in the Crossroads” festival.
Lauren Fasbinder, president of Fasbinder & Associates, provides public relations services to a wide variety of businesses and organizations, including Jackson County CASA.
After the last 2 years of dealing with the pandemic and packing on those COVID pounds here are some motivational quotes that can be the spark plugs to our wellness engines. You can have a full tank of gas, a clean carburetor, all the fluids topped off, and 300 horsepower of Detroit’s finest under the hood, but you’re going nowhere without that initial spark. In your quest for well-being, you need a catalyst to move you from idle to ideal. Here are some motivational jolts to inspire you to get your health and fitness vehicle moving.
Make time for exercise each dayPhoto by Victor Freitas on Unsplash
Thomas Paine said, “The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.” You will have conflicts with making time for exercise each day. The treadmill will conflict with your enjoyment of the living-room couch and its fluffy pillows. Your body will engage in conflict with dumbbells and exercise balls as it seeks better health. Embrace these conflicts with excitement, and walk through the smoke and fire. Triumph is waiting on the other side.
Marathon runnersPhoto by Miguel A. Amutio on Unsplash
John F. Kennedy said, “Things do not happen. Things are made to happen.” The firefighter’s 55-pound weight loss did not just happen one day on a call. The computer programmer’s success in the Chicago Marathon did not just happen on a Sunday in October. The 4th grade teacher’s significant drop in cholesterol level did not just happen the day before spring break. These people made things happen…and it took time.
Ralph Marston of The Daily Motivator website, wrote, “What you do today can improve all your tomorrows.” Let today be the first day in 28 years without a cigarette. Stay an extra five minutes on the recumbent bike at the gym today. Start training today for the three-day breast cancer walk that is scheduled for the fall. Tomorrow is always waiting to see what you put in your piggy bank today. Invest wisely and watch the dividends grow.
Full MoonPhoto by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash
Jill McLemore once said, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you will land amongst the stars.” Set that goal to trim 75 pounds from your body. Only losing 42 pounds puts you way out there with the North Star. Aim to run 750 miles this year. Coming up 68 miles short will still put you past that former planet Pluto and on your way to the Orion constellation. Dropping eight waist sizes by Christmas instead of the projected 10 will let you glow with the luminescence of several brilliant wonders in the sky. By the way, I think there’s a full moon tonight!
Zig Ziglar stated, “You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” Tom Cruise was another aspiring pretty face in Hollywood about 30 years ago before starting to audition for parts in TV shows. Jared Fogle was a morbidly obese college student at Indiana University in the 1990s before beginning his Subway diet. Mark Zuckerberg was just another starry-eyed Ivy Leaguer until he began to implement a social network idea. They all have that common bond: They started something.
These motivational quotes should help get your wellness engine running and once your car is started there’s no telling where your health and fitness can go. Don't forget to end me a postcard when you get there!
This health and fitness article is brought to you by that guy who’s sneaky like a black hole and bright like a nebula. My name is Ron Blake and I can be found playing with my telescope at email@example.com.
Curative has announced that it is currently providing COVID-19 no-cost testing in your area at Metropolitan Community College.
Stay safe and get tested!
You can schedule COVID-19 Test at curative.com, and receive results in 24-48 hours.
Curative is the leading provider of COVID-19 testing in the United States. Curative’s mission is to end the COVID-19 pandemic by providing simple-to-use and painless testing at scale to produce reliable data for patients and health officials. We know that broad access to testing, robust contact tracing, and a vaccine are necessary to end the pandemic.
Is there any cost?
Regarding the tests, there is no out of pocket cost to the individual. Through the CARES act, all individuals with health insurance will be covered for a COVID-19 test. No one is ever charged a copay or deductible.
For uninsured individuals, they are covered under the HRSA fund under the CARES act. Curative will never send a bill to any individual getting a COVID-19 test through any of our testing sites.
How soon do I get the results?
Curative provides results within 24 hours of arrival at our lab (if not sooner). We pride ourselves on our ability to distribute tests rapidly, test patients easily, and send them their results quickly. Other highlights include:
· Non-invasive cheek swab (video) that is more accurate (~90%) than a nasopharyngeal test (~80%)
· Can be self-collected under supervision by lightly-trained individuals (so no onsite medical professional required)
· Results within 24 hours of receipt at our lab
· Lab capacity to process tens of thousands of additional tests
· Manufacturing capacity to meet any order size
· Minimal PPE requirement due to the test’s self-collected method
Please visit curative.com to schedule your no-cost appointment TODAY at a site nearest to you. Together we can end this pandemic!
Curative believes that communal well-being is fundamental to individual health.
Curative is building infrastructure to make essential health services easier to access for everyone. Their infrastructure is designed to change as the world does—offering nearby access, affordable services, and science-based guidance.
Their efforts are supported by the optimism and ambition we share with communities across the US, and together we’re imagining new ways to help more people stay safe, healthy, and informed wherever they are.
“I wish I could work out, too, but I just don’t have the motivation!”
Give me a dollar for every time I’ve heard that and I’d be in Cabo San Lucas with an umbrella drink right now. Let’s identify a few of your motivations to get you on the right path. They are there … you just need to realize them so you can make it a great 2022.
How about getting healthy so you can be at that Christmas celebration in 30 years with all the family gathered around and exchanging presents? There will be nieces, nephews, brothers, sisters, children and maybe some grandchildren, all enjoying the sounds and sights of the season. That would be amazing!
How about being healthy so you can watch the first man land on Mars in 2030? You hear all the talk about preparing for a mission to Mars, but it will be a long time in coming. Just think if you were alive and well to see it happen!
How about being healthy so you can attend that 60-year class reunion? It might even be nice to walk into the function with a spring in your step and a glow of health about you! Many of your classmates will have walked past St. Peter and those pearly gates by that time, but you can give yourself a chance to stay here with some proactive measures.
How about being healthy so you can spend more time being relaxed and retired? It would be awesome to just not have to do anything you didn’t want to do! Get up every day and use that watch they gave you as a fashion accessory only. With a healthy body, you can spend ample time in the lap of leisure well into your 90s.
How about being healthy so you can walk your dog with your grandkids or great-nephews after that Thanksgiving meal many years down the road? It will be so cool to have that turkey dinner with all the relatives, but it’ll be even more fun to be able to move around without having to catch your breath between steps.
How about being healthy so you can continue to enjoy vibrant sunsets, thrilling football games, colorful leaves in the fall, summer barbecues, or birthday cards in the mail?
Everyone can find the motivation to work out! You just have to identify which motivation will get you to your starting line each day and which will help you get to your daily finish line.
There are plenty of great things to enjoy in life. Find your motivation and start earning your frequent flyer miles for your healthy life. Then soar into the future with excitement about what will be!
This article of motivation is brought to you by a guy who knows a good thing when he sees it. That guy of good vision is Ron Blake, and he can be spotted on that bright horizon at firstname.lastname@example.org.