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ORANGE COUNTY PEOPLE: ACHIEVEMENTS AND CELEBRATIONS
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Giving the Kids a Hand

Supporters of Abused-Children's Service Gather in Newport to Fete Honorees

March 09, 2000|KATHRYN BOLD

The event: Celebration of Children 2000, a black-tie gala honoring volunteers and supporters of Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), a national organization that provides mentors for abused children. The awards dinner took place Saturday at the Sutton Place Hotel in Newport Beach and raised funds for the Orange County chapter of CASA.

Cheering the champions: About 300 guests gathered in the hotel ballroom to dine, dance and applaud the evening's honorees. Lucie Moore, a CASA board member since 1993 who helped create the first Celebration of Children in 1994, received the Children's Champion 2000 award.

Superior Court Judge Gail Andler was named Judicial Honoree and Meta River Productions was the Corporate Honoree. Bill Graves, an advocate since 1996, was named CASA Volunteer of the Year for helping seven teenage boys. "Every child looks forward to a visit from CASA advocates," Graves said. "They know the volunteers aren't paid, and they are there because they care."

Giving children a chance: CASA provides volunteer advocates to abused, abandoned and neglected children who have been removed from their homes and are dependents of juvenile court. Advocates represent the child's interests in court until the youngster is placed in a permanent home. "Most of these children have no stable adult in their lives, so volunteers become friends and mentors," said Debbie Abrecht, executive director of CASA. CASA has 850 programs nationwide; the local chapter, based in Orange, has 400 volunteers who serve more than 500 children annually.

Quote: "These are kids who are warehoused in the system," Moore said. "Without CASA, they'd be without a voice. We can be their spokesman in court. The judges are looking for meaningful input and the advocates provide it."

Faces: Chris Massey, advisory board co-chairman; Richard Gadbois, emcee, and his wife, Frances; Geoff Moore; Kris Graves; Steve Andler; Brian and Anissa Gurnee; Glenn and Susan Schafer; Gene and Shannon Zech; and Ken and Jennifer Salgado.

Bottom line: The gala netted about $225,000 for CASA. Proceeds will go to recruit, train and supervise CASA volunteers.

Whom to call: CASA has 330 children on the waiting list for volunteer advocates, who agree to spend a minimum of three hours a week for two years. For information: (714) 663-9034.

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