A group in Dauphin County hopes to expand its reach and double the number of children in foster care that it helps.
The Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Dauphin County launched a fundraiser on Wednesday that invites the community to walk, run, bike or even kayak to raise money for the nonprofit.
“These children who have been abused and neglected are waiting for the community to summon its collective power to make this world a brighter, safer place for them to grow up,” said Carmen Henry-Harris, board vice president for CASA. “We can be the positive force for our children to live in permanent, safe and loving homes.”
The “Everyday Hero Challenge” is a physical fitness fundraiser to raise money for the CASA program, which is largely powered by volunteers. Community members are invited to participate by logging 62 miles of physical activity throughout the month of June.
Funds raised from registration and donations may be used to hire another staff member in order to take on more volunteers. The main goal is to increase the number of children they are able to assist at a time from 31 to 62.
CASA has already received $20,000 from organizations like Mid Penn Bank, UPMC and the Mark L. Butler Foundation.
According to board President Lori Serratelli, there are over 350 Dauphin County children in the foster care system. CASA hopes to continue increasing its capacity to help more kids, she said.
Serratelli founded CASA in 2019 after working with the Cumberland County CASA program and seeing the need for a program in Dauphin County. She was inspired by her sister, her “hero,” who worked with youth as a social worker.
“I was lucky to have an intact family and loving parents, but many of these kids do not,” she said.
Dauphin County CASA trains volunteers to represent the best interest of a child in court and to help them find a safe and permanent home. Serratelli said that these advocates help make sure the judge understands the child’s situation.
At their fundraiser announcement on the steps of the Dauphin County Courthouse on Wednesday, the group of staff, board members and volunteers urged the community to think of the children and donate to the important work that CASA does.
“If one person is there for a child through their most difficult time, it’s CASA,” said board member Sarah Pearce. “That’s a reason to give.”
For more information on CASA or to register for the “Everyday Hero Challenge,” visit their website.
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