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Fraternity Blog

Posted On: Monday, June 15, 2015 08:00 AM, by Tiffany Erica Yoshida
Tiffany Erica Yoshida
Epsilon Sigma/
UC Irvine
CASA. I first heard about Court Appointed Special Advocates my freshman year of college at UC Irvine during sorority recruitment. I never thought I would join a sorority, but my friend convinced me to go through the recruitment process with her. During recruitment, I was given my first introduction to CASA while visiting Epsilon Sigma's facility and decided to join.

Some of my favorite experiences as an undergraduate were the philanthropic events planned by Theta. It was always so fulfilling and gratifying to know that we were supporting and donating what time and funds we could to a very beneficial and impactful cause. In addition to our own events, we had the opportunity to volunteer at some of our local CASA events and fundraisers. Little did I know I would soon be a guest at these annual galas and on the event committee after graduating!

During my senior year, I represented Epsilon Sigma at Robin McGraw's initiation at Omicron/USC. This was a special moment for me as I saw the partnership between CASA and Theta embodied in an inspiring individual. Robin is a national spokeswoman for CASA and now a Theta! Shortly after graduating UCI, I met someone through an interview process, and he coincidentally turned out to be an instrumental figure and supporter and on the board of advisors for CASA. After so many connections, the CASA connection continued to follow me. At this point, I knew CASA was meant to be in my life, and in late 2010, I signed up for training to become a court appointed special advocate.

Since that time, I have had two cases. I am incredibly passionate about CASA. CASA's mission is to "support and promote court-appointed volunteer advocacy so that every abused or neglected child can be safe, establish permanency, and have the opportunity to thrive." I've seen firsthand the impact that this mission has on children, including the current youth I serve. In addition to serving as a CASA, I am involved in CASA's local events to spread its mission and raise awareness.

Joining Theta was one of the best decisions I have made. My college experience was immensely enhanced and wonderful because of Theta. I am proud to be a Theta, and I thank Theta for helping me become who I am today. I encourage all my Theta sisters to get involved with their local CASA chapter, whether committing to be a volunteer advocate such as myself, or getting involved in other ways with local events and fundraisers and spreading awareness to the mission of CASA.

I love being a CASA and being a part of the CASA family. Theta led me to CASA and helped me find my voice in the world, and CASA allows me to give my child a voice.

Tiffany Erica Yoshida, Epsilon Sigma/UC Irvine, works as a client services specialist at CBRE, Inc and is a volunteer child advocate for CASA of Orange County and a wish granter for Make-A-Wish of Orange County.

Posted On: Wednesday, May 27, 2015 11:00 AM, by Liz Appel Rinck
Spring 2015 issue
Soon the Spring 2015 issue of the Theta magazine will appear in your mailbox. Although it's not a special issue, per se, it does comprise a number of noteworthy features:

  • News of a first-of-its-kind capital campaign launched by Theta Foundation. Through this campaign, Thetas and friends of Theta can invest in two proven programs: the Educational Leadership Consultant (ELC) program and a new need-based scholarship program.

  • Further celebration of Theta's 25-year relationship with CASA, including an article by a collegian who strengthened the connection between her chapter and her local CASA chapter.

  • Stories from alumnae groups and college chapters about spreading the widest influence for good on our sixth annual Day of Service.

  • The Fraternity's annual report, a list of undergraduate Thetas who earned straight As, and a profile of Jean Smith McKenzie, Alpha Mu/Missouri, president of American Girl.


As always, we hope you will find both inspiration and entertainment in the latest issue of the Kappa Alpha Theta Magazine.

Liz Appel Rinck, Gamma/Butler, is the director of communications for Kappa Alpha Theta Fraternity.

Posted On: Friday, May 8, 2015 08:45 AM, by Melissa Shaub
We did it!

This week via social media and through an email to members, we asked Thetas and their friends to help us raise $25,000 in 25 hours to help 25 children in celebration of our 25-year relationship with National Court Appointed Special Advocates. We are pleased to share that we exceeded our goal! At least 27 children (we are still tallying the donations!) will receive the support of a CASA thanks to the hundreds of Thetas and their friends who worked together to demonstrate that abused and neglected children are not forgotten!

This 25-hour challenge is just one way Theta remains an ardent supporter of CASA after 25 years. Thetas continually demonstrate their commitment to the cause by serving as volunteers for CASA and, as revealed through this drive, as powerful advocates to spread awareness. Through their fundraising efforts, our college and alumnae chapters provide local CASA organizations with much-needed support in their respective communities. Through donations received throughout the year, Theta Foundation makes quarterly grants to National CASA to help provide essential training, educational materials, and advocacy work that benefit the nationwide network.

No matter how you choose to support CASA, rest assured you are making it possible for a qualified, compassionate adult to fight for and protect a child's right to be safe, to be treated with dignity and respect, and to learn and grow in the security of a loving family.

The 25-hour challenge may be over, but the impact of our generosity is only just beginning! Our thanks to Thetas and friends for continuing to spread the widest influence for good and for leading the way for this worthwhile cause.

Learn more about Theta's relationship with CASA and how you can continue to help.

Melissa Shaub, Alpha Sigma/Washington State, is the director of education and leadership at Kappa Alpha Theta Fraternity headquarters.

Posted On: Tuesday, May 5, 2015 09:20 AM, by Melissa Shaub
For 25 years, Kappa Alpha Theta and National Court Appointed Special Advocates have shared a partnership rooted in a shared belief that every abused or neglected child should be safe, establish permanence, and have the opportunity to thrive. During our partnership, Thetas have been advocates, contributed countless volunteer hours, and provided millions of dollars in support of national and local CASA programs. Unfortunately, the number of children in foster care is rising, and there are thousands of children who do not have a voice because they don't have a CASA.

We know it costs approximately $1,000 a year to fund a CASA volunteer for one child—a cost that is just one third spent for one month in foster care. Throughout our 25-year partnership, Thetas have contributed more than $1.2 million to Kappa Alpha Theta Foundation's grant to National CASA, and in a three-hour period and through $5 contributions, attendees at the 2014 Grand Convention raised enough money so that Theta Foundation could provide 14 children with a CASA volunteer for a year.

Today, we're going to demonstrate that abused and neglected children are not forgotten children - and we can't do this without you (and your friends). We are a Fraternity of more than 200,000+ members, but it would only take 1,000 of us making gifts of $25 to reach our goal of providing 25 children with a CASA volunteer for a year. Every gift of every size matters—big or small—and every member can make a difference. For the next 25 hours, we are asking Thetas to do what they do best, and to work together, to meet our goal of $25,000 in 25 hours. We know that when Thetas come together to spread the widest influence for good, anything is possible!

Donate today! When filling out the online form, make sure to select Restricted Donation and National CASA so that your donation is credited appropriately. And...follow along with the #Theta25CASA hashtag to receive updates!

The CASA 25th Anniversary Donation Drive is a joint effort between Kappa Alpha Theta Fraternity and Theta Foundation.

Posted On: Tuesday, March 10, 2015 08:00 AM, by Lisa Bagay Hawrot
Lisa Bagay Hawrot
Epsilon Omega/
Washington & Jefferson
The main reason I became involved with Theta after graduation was because of my CASA involvement as an undergraduate with my Theta chapter. During my time at Washington & Jefferson College, our Epsilon Omega chapter was active with CASA in raising money during Carnival Weekend for our volleyball tournament.

Since July 2010, when our local CASA organization—CASA for Children, Inc.—came into being, I have served as a member of the board of directors (including past president and secretary, and current treasurer). Our CASA organization proudly serves children in Ohio, Marshall, Wetzel, and Tyler counties in West Virginia.

It is extremely rewarding for me to serve on the CASA board. CASA works to serve the best interest of children during some of the most difficult times in their lives. Through my family law practice, I've unfortunately seen first-hand some devastating cases of abuse and neglect. CASA works to ensure that these children are in a safe and loving environment (whether that means reunification with their families or not), and if reunification is not possible, to assist them in achieving permanency in a forever home.

In 2014, our CASA for Children program provided advocacy for more than 270 children, helping 115 achieve permanency, through the help of 34 volunteer advocates and three staff members. Our program spearheads the West Virginia statewide fostering futures initiative serving youth ages 14-21. We have trained more than 100 volunteers around the state, and currently 55 youth have the benefit of a specially trained CASA volunteer to help them gain the skills necessary for independence.

Although we've had various fundraisers over the years, in 2014, we had our first annual Superhero 5K, which was a great success! Our second annual Superhero 5K is scheduled for April 18.

I'm very proud and privileged to work with our executive director, Susan Harrison, the other board members, and all the wonderful volunteers. Abuse and neglect cases can be devastating for a child, but I'm proud to say that through CASA we can give those children a voice.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer or want to learn more about your local CASA organization, visit the National CASA website.

Lisa Bagay Hawrot, Epsilon Omega/Washington & Jefferson, is an attorney specializing in complex domestic relations and abuse and neglect law in Wheeling, W.V.

Posted On: Monday, January 19, 2015 08:00 AM, by Valerie Holloway Skinner
Valerie Skinner
Epsilon Epsilon/
Baylor
In June 2014, Valerie spoke at the CASA Breakfast at Grand Convention in Orlando, Fla. Many Thetas were inspired by Valerie's story and in the few short hours following the breakfast, attendees raised nearly $14,000 with the help of a matching gift from her family foundation.



My name is Valerie Skinner and I am honored to have been asked to share with you my personal, as well as my family's, financial commitment to CASA over the years. I'd like to paint a picture for you of why our family has chosen to support CASA through Theta Foundation since 1999.

As a couple, my parents agreed that the most important role they had was to make sure the physical, emotional, social, educational, and spiritual needs of their children were being met to the best of their abilities. They made many sacrifices over the years to make sure we had nutritious food to eat, new shoes to wear, and good schools to attend. They helped us with our homework, monitored our chores, attended our sporting events, took us to church, and drove us back and forth to all of our volunteer activities.

Was my life perfect growing up? No. But was I completely secure every single day of my formative years that my parents wanted me, loved me, and would provide for me until I was old enough to provide for myself? YES. And because I had that strong, safe, supportive foundation, I have been able to repeat that cycle with my own family. Clearly, I won the parent lottery, and I bet many of you did, too. If you're a child in the foster care system, however, your life looks much different.

As Thetas, we are in a unique position of being in a partnership with an exceptional agency that knows how to show children that someone cares about them. And that this caring person can be trusted to help find them a safe, permanent home where they can thrive and become all they were meant to be.

My dad used to tell me a story about when he was in the first or second grade. His teacher had instructed each child to bring a dime to class to buy a War Bond to support the efforts of the soldiers fighting in World War II. My dad's mother died when he was 3, and because his family was so poor, his stepmother told him they couldn't spare a dime, and so he felt deeply hurt and embarrassed to be the only child who didn't have anything to give. He never forgot that feeling, telling me many times, "Valerie, don't ever be a person who doesn't have a dime to give away." Possibly the most important lesson my father ever taught me was to always be the person who chooses to give. And since he led by such clear example, it was an easy lesson to embrace and understand.

At this stage in my life, I am not going to be able to serve as a judge in a family court. I am not likely to become a CPS worker or even a foster or adoptive parent. Because of other commitments in my life, I currently am not in a position to serve as a CASA advocate. But I do have a dime to give away. And I bet you do, too.

You may already be involved in a fundraiser in your community for your local CASA organization, which is great, but today I am asking you to consider supporting the work of the national organization, because your local chapter relies on them to provide training curriculum, technical support, quality assurance, volunteer recruitment and public awareness. We also rely on our national organization to distribute federal grants and secure private and corporate dollars. The dollars you are raising locally are more efficiently and effectively utilized because of the oversight of our national organization.

As we celebrate our 25th year with CASA, nothing would make me a prouder Theta than to see your dimes and my dimes working together to secure the future of children who are counting on us to care.

Valerie Holloway Skinner, Epsilon Epsilon/Baylor, is a member of the Mid-Cities Alumnae Chapter and is a charter Life Loyal Theta.


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