Local Nonprofit Celebrates Volunteer Efforts
CASA of Luzerne County revealed the new CASA Clubhouse with a ribbon cutting on June 6. The Clubhouse will provide a place where local foster children can have fun and meet with their volunteer advocates.
Members of the Leadership Northeast Core Program, under the team name Mi CASA Es Su CASA, spent several months transforming an empty office into a fun, calming space for the kids. The Clubhouse features books, toys, games and STEM activities for all age groups, as well as a TV area for watching movies. Yoga mats and art supplies provide a way for the children to de-stress.
“It gives the children a space that’s their own,” explained Mary Kay Pivovarnik, executive director of CASA of Luzerne County. “They can really feel comfortable here and know that they can come here, have a nice time, relax and not have to worry about some of the things that are happening in their lives.”
The Leadership Northeast team included Cartis Best, Christopher Gazdick, Dawn Holmes, Rachel Kern, Camaryn Lokuta, Jill Robinson and Joanna Bryn Smith.
“It means a lot to me to be able to provide these kids with a fun and safe space for them to decompress and unwind,” said Kern. “Knowing that the new space will help provide them with positive experiences makes me hopeful for their futures. This is also a wonderful thing for our area because investing in our children now helps ensure that we have local leaders in the future.”
The Clubhouse has an ocean theme, complete with a mural by the Street Art Society of NEPA. The theme reflects the starfish story, a tale about the power of making a difference, even if it only affects one person.
“What that represents to us at CASA is that every advocate is appointed one child or one sibling group. But it’s that one person that the advocate gets to know and really gets to help,” said Pivovarnik. “So even if one person comes forward and volunteers with one child, that’s one child that has an advocate that didn’t have one before.”
After the ribbon cutting, CASA hosted a reception at River Street Jazz Café to honor their advocates. CASA estimates that the advocates gave 11,500 hours of service last year alone.
An advocate is a trained community volunteer who is assigned to a foster child in need. They spend quality time with them, provide a stable relationship and speak up for their needs until they find a safe, permanent home.
Over 500 children in Luzerne County currently need an advocate. If you’re interested in getting involved, CASA is hosting information sessions on June 28, July 8, July 19, August 11 and August 15. Virtual and in-person options are available. Visit CASA’s website or call (570) 855-2247 to learn more.
Featured photo (top) from left: Leadership Northeast participants Dawn Holmes, Joanna Bryn Smith, Cartis Best, Jill Robinson and Rachel Kern.