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Success Story: CASA

Did you know there are over 490 kids in our county who are under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court and need a Court Appointed Special Advocate? CASA advocates make recommendations to the court, based on the best interest of the children. Let us share with you what that looks like for a child in our community.

CASA volunteer, Pam, is advocating for a one-year old who was born to a former foster youth. This young mother is now an adult who has overcome some of the most extreme circumstances in her short life. And now, she has a baby of her own. Along with advocating for the one-year old, Pam is also a positive role model for this young mother.

Pam takes the mom and toddler to their medical appointments, the park, the zoo and other outings. The mother trusts Pam implicitly and this is the basis for their relationship. Pam is kind, non-judgmental, and patient. She sees the positives in the mother, and provides an extra pair of eyes for the court.

Pam is instrumental in breaking the cycle of abuse for this family.

This is just one example of lives positively affected by a CASA volunteer advocate.


Success Story: ECHO

ECHO, El Camino Homeless Organization is a transitional shelter in Northern San Luis Obispo County that is helping families and individuals find permanent housing. ECHO is for people who are ready to make a change in their lives. People like Henry.

Henry was an engineer from Southern California. A couple of years ago, he started having trouble with his eyesight and was struggling at work. At the same time, his wife became sick and passed away. His world was shattered. He stopped caring about anything, including his bills. Soon, he lost his home and was living in his car.

After several months, he woke up one day sick and tired of being sick and tired. He knew his wife would want better for him and he vowed to make a change. First, he scheduled his eye surgery. Second, he researched homeless shelters and applied at ECHO.

During his stay at ECHO, Henry was focused on finding a job, willing to relocate to do so. He accepted a position in Davis and found a home to rent. Henry says being at ECHO is exactly what he needed to get back on his feet and the support of case managers helped make that possible.

ECHO gave Henry a second chance and his story is just one example of a life positively affected by ECHO.


Success Story: Boys and Girls Club

The Boys & Girls Club provides educational support, dropout prevention, and guidance. They are a safe place to learn and grow – all while having fun. There are children in our community that without the Boys and Girls Club, would have no place to go after school. Kids like Stephen.

Stephen has been attending the Boys and Girls Club since kindergarten. He had always been a ball of sunshine, but last year the staff saw a dramatic shift in Stephen’s behavior. It became rare for Stephen to have a good day.

Stephen was running away, lashing out at other club members, and openly defied staff direction. Finally, he was given one last chance. The Club developed a safe place plan for when Stephen started to feel overly stressed. This safe place not only provided a break from the stimulation, but also de-escalated situations early enough where Stephen began to recognize the triggers and could catch them early. He also was able to apologize for his missteps.

Stephen is now the number one helper behind the desk and his resilience is a source of pride for his family and his club. Stephen is a prime examples of what the Boys and Girls Club strives to do. Support, engage, improve and impact children’s lives.


Success Stories: CASA

Currently there are over 490 kids in our county’s court system who are waiting for a CASA volunteer advocate. These children deserve to have a voice in how decisions are made and most of the time it is the voice of the volunteer advocate who can make a huge difference in that child’s life.

Let us share with you what that looks like for children in our community.

CASA volunteers, Martin and Rose have been advocating on their cases for two years. Martin is advocating for 16-year old Joe and Rose is advocating for a 4-year old girl, named Wendy. Although these children differ in many ways, both were abused and neglected and suffered due to the mental illness of their mothers.

When Martin met Joe he was overweight, low self-esteem in additional to behavioral issues. Martin and Joe’s bond grew with trips to the gym, as he gained confidence in his new found strength.

Rose quickly identified that Wendy’s grandmother, who had custody could not navigate the child welfare system because of a language barrier. Rose became an advocate, not only for Wendy but also for her grandmother.

Today, both Joe and Wendy are adopted and living in loving and happy families.

These stories are proof positive that CASA volunteers can make a difference in the lives of abused and neglected children.

* Names and details have been changed to protect identities


Success Story: Boys and Girls Club

The Boys & Girls Club provides educational support, dropout prevention, and guidance. They are a safe place to learn and grow – all while having fun. There are children in our community that without the Boys and Girls Club, would have no place to go after school.  Kids like Reagan and Mary.

Reagan and Mary are two girls in the Club’s 3rd grade class. They are identical twins who look and act identical. The two of them started attending the Boys and Girls Club about half way through the summer. They both seemed shy at first.

As they became more comfortable, they began yelling, running during class and talking out of turn. The staff noticed this abrupt change in behavior and began to be stricter with them guiding them on behavior while at the Club

Just as quickly as they became disruptive, they became gentler and more respectful. They now follow the rules and are both one of the top students in the class.

This is exactly what the Boys and Girls Club strives to do. Support, engage, improve and impact children’s lives.


ECHO Success Story: Nadine

Last year, must! charities launched a half-million dollar collaboration with ECHO, El Camino Homeless Organization which is a transitional shelter. Every homeless person at ECHO has a unique situation. However, they all have something in common. The number one reason for becoming homeless is lack of affordable housing. ECHO is here to help.

Here to help people like Nadine.

Nadine was homeless for three years before arriving at ECHO. Being a domestic violence survivor, she had difficulty dealing with daily tasks and was anxious at night. She had been couch surfing with her children because she was not able to afford her own place to live.

Upon her entrance interview at ECHO, it was decided that she would focus on her mental health and recovery. With guidance from ECHO case managers, Nadine sought help from Transitions Mental Health Association and Community Counseling Center in SLO. She also completed an orientation with the Department of Rehabilitation for career counseling.

After a few months at ECHO, Nadine was approved for subsidized housing and found a small apartment in SLO. She is currently working on starting her own business.

When asked about her experience at ECHO she said, “Staff treated me with respect. They believed in me and cared. My case managers were always there to listen to and provide me with encouragement.”

This is just one example of a life positively affected by ECHO.


Youth Works: Success Story

Our must! charities Youth Board has invested time and funds into Youth Works, an organization that teachers leadership skills, and job skills to prepare youth for the working world.  At must! charities we are data-driven and LOVE seeing success like this!

September 1, 2017
Number of youth participating: 34 working

As of August 31, 2018
Number of youth who have participated this grant year: 83 worked, 32 of them new this year; an additional 199 individuals (76 new) participated in our programs other than working (4-H Science & new activities this year: Run Club, Coding Club, Homework Club, summer camp, swimming lessons ).

Jobs have included  farming, woodworking, payroll, cooking, planting/tending rose cuttings, pulling grades for group, staffing Templeton Wine Festival and Templeton Beer Festival, recycling, teaching cooking, teaching & delivering programming for Oak Park Coding Club, writing thank you notes.

 


Success Story: Tim and Catherine’s Story at CASA

Did you know there are over 490 kids in our county who are under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court and need a Court Appointed Special Advocate? CASA advocates make recommendations to the court, based on the best interest of the children. Let us share with you what that looks like for a child in our community.

CASA volunteer, Catherine, has been advocating for 11-year old Tim for over a year. Tim has a strong bond with his father, and his case plan was on track for reuniting with his father. Unfortunately, Tim’s father did not follow through with his court-ordered plan and soon Tim was placed with an elderly relative.

Tim thought this would be a permanent placement for him. But due to the relative’s age and health problems, she was not able to handle the demands of a child in her home. He was heartbroken. He was then moved to two successive foster homes, both of which were not good fits for him.

Throughout all of this time, Catherine maintained weekly visits with Tim and close contact with his caregivers. One day at the end of the school year, Catherine was talking to an employee at Tim’s school. The employee said that in the past she had operated a specialized foster home. Catherine asked if she might be interested in fostering again.

Soon after, arrangements were made for Tim to live under her care. It has been a great fit, and the foster mom is now pursuing adoption of Tim.  This is just one example of a life positively affected by a CASA volunteer advocate.


Success Story: The Smith Family

Last year, must! charities partnered with ECHO, El Camino Homeless Organization.  ECHO is a transitional shelter in Northern San Luis Obispo County that is helping families and individuals find permanent housing. ECHO is for people who are ready to make a change in their lives. People like The Smith Family.

As a newly blended family, Scott and Amy brought together two boys as step-brothers Christopher 7, and Matthew 10. Both boys know what it’s like to be homeless and hungry, to sleep in their car in a parking lot, and to wish for a home with air conditioning when it’s 100 degrees outside.

Through the help of the ECHO Case Management Team, they were connected to afterschool programs so Scott and Amy could focus on finding full time employment. After a short time at ECHO, Scott was able to secure a full-time job with a construction company and Amy found part-time work at a restaurant.

It was at this point, with financial guidance from the ECHO team, the family was able to start saving money and create a savings plan that would allow them to obtain sustainable and permanent housing once they moved out of ECHO. Paired with assistance from The Link, the family was able to find a program that would subsidize a portion of their housing for a temporary time period. This was the final step in securing the housing they needed.

After six months at ECHO, they are now in their own home with two full time jobs and Amy is enrolled in college courses. The brothers are doing well in school and they were excited to have their own room and even more excited for their new bunkbed!

This family gives us a picture of second chances and is just one example of lives positively affected by ECHO.

 


Why Must: Thacher Winery