ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Winnebago County Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) is asking for volunteers to help children going through the court system.
“We like to say if you have a little bit of time and a big heart, that you can change a child’s life, and in the process I think you can change your life too,” said Steve Rosella, advocate facilitator for Winnebago County CASA. “Giving your time and your effort in such a meaningful way to a child, when they’re at a pivotal point in their life, to help them grow up to be a productive adult, can be a real game-changer for everybody. The kids, and everybody that comes into their life thereafter.”
Volunteers help ensure children’s voices are heard and their needs are met in court. Currently. there are more than 1,000 kids in Winnebago County who need help, but only 250 are matched with advocates. CASA says it especially needs male volunteers. Only 20% of advocates are men.
“So we have a 50-50 distribution with kids that need some help, but our volunteers we need some more balance there,” said Rosella. “So we’d really like some men to come out and give the special gifts I know they have to these kids.”
CASA has a recruiting event, called “Guys for Kids”, scheduled for April 21st at the Nordlof Center, 118 N Main St. Rosella says the organization suspects child abuse cases are on the rise because of the pandemic, meaning even more manpower is needed to help Winnebago County’s most vulnerable.
“When things continue to open up, as they are now, we anticipate there will be a bit of an increase, an uptick in that,” he said. “So it’s really important for us to make sure we have an equal or even better uptick in the number of volunteers that we have so that we can go out and visit these kids.”
Anybody interested in volunteering can find out how to get involved on CASA’s website.