For 20 years (going on 21), our organization has been serving this community and those around us by offering services to those in need and voices to the most vulnerable group of the population; the kids. What started as CASA, with few employees and a group of volunteers, we have evolved into the facility we are today and have grown immensely! With 6 full-time, 3 part-time staff, 7 board members and over 60 volunteers, we continue to add to our ever growing list of programs and be a positive resource and experience for all families we come into contact with. We are happy to offer families opportunities to succeed! As we continue to make strides toward our main mission, we could not be the facility that we are if not for our generous donors and sponsors. Those who see the problems within our community and chose to be a part of the solution. Elie Wiesel (author and Holocaust Survivor) said this: "What hurts the victim most is not the cruelty of the oppressor, bu the silence of the bystander." We are more than grateful for the generosity of the individuals and businesses who continue to support us!
Today, we are the Visitation and Advocacy Center. In May of 2017 our organization made the decision as a whole to change our name from CASA to VAC to give a better representation of all the services we provide. We are still very much a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) program, but we also offer so much more. Our homey facility is very centrally located in the heart of downtown Gillette within a convenient distance from the Court House. Our doors are always 100% open, as we encourage the community to come in to tour our building, get more information on the services we provide or to talk to one of our case managers to find out how you can become a volunteer advocate! You can also fill out the volunteer application on our website in the Advocacy Program tab!
Our Visitation Center provides services to families with all sorts of needs. We offer supervised visitation and exchanges for those involved in cases with the Department of Family Services, families who have protection orders in place and to families who have been through or are currently going through a tumultuous divorce. The center also allows visitation to anyone who needs the service. The Visitation services are free of charge and open to the public. A court order is not a requirement in order to qualify for our services. Our office is able to provide pro-se mediation in order to assist those in need of coming to an agreement without being able to afford the climbing costs of attorneys. We have recently added a Therapy Dog Program to our list of services as well! Within our office, we have a facility dog who assists in orientations for clients and other client related needs. The dog program also consists of a READ program where the dogs visit the schools, nursing homes, hospitals, hospice centers, libraries, etc.. to provide a sense of calmness to those who visit with them. Our dog program will continue to grow as time goes on and we are excited to be on the forefront of new things! Keep an eye out for our new program announcements! We will continue to grow and we are excited about it!
Our Advocacy Center is just that! We have a large group of advocates who are trained, sworn before a judge and court appointed to be a positive figure and a voice for children who have been deemed abused and/or neglected. Many of our advocates wear several hats over the life of their assigned case. The idea for an advocate is to develop a bond with the child/children they have been appointed to and be their standing person who they can trust to be there for them when, typically, lots of people are coming and going from their lives! The advocate has the ability to talk to the child to understand and appreciate where the child stands and is able to convey to the "team" what their wishes are and where the direction the child wishes to see the case go! Advocates are simply the team member assigned to the children of the case. Advocates are assigned one case at a time and have advantage to focus their time solely on that case, as opposed to other members of the team who have a case load and several more kids. Judges in our district typically put stock into what our advocates have to say, since they build a rapport with the kids involved and have their best interest at heart. If you think becoming an advocate isn't for you, come visit with me. This is an opportunity that anyone and everyone can take advantage of. It is a small time commitment in which you can change the life of a child who may need you more than you know! Call us today or stop down to our office to begin your own JOURNEY!