Hybrid Meeting – April 8, 2021
Inspiration: Joe McCarthy
  • Wendy Lange
  • Kevin Bolin
  • Mike Griffith, Field Of Honor Team – Mike shared a moving video about the Field Of Honor project. He also advised club members to look out for an email explaining the Field of Honor project in detail, especially how to order a Medal of Honor. Brooke Cunningham showed club members how to share club posts about the project on Facebook and encouraged us to share them. 
  • Bob Williams, Meals on Wheels – Bob announced that there are still opportunities to volunteer with Meals On Wheels for May and June. For club members who want to volunteer but haven't yet volunteered, training is also available. 
  • David Haage, Peach Festival – David announced that the Rotary Peach Festival 2021 is definitely on for this year and encouraged club members to save the date 8/21/21. The Peach Festival will be held at The Holiday Twin drive-in this year, instead of the Hughes Stadium grounds, and will be in the afternoon and evening rather than starting early in the morning and running through the afternoon. 
  • Tim Cochran, New Member Announcement – Tim made a New Member Announcement #2 for prospective member Tony Catania.
  • Krishna Murthy - Krishna explained that Ellen Brinks' name had been accidentally omitted in an email sent out by Rotary International Committee Chair, John Trewartha, in which he described a project that Ellen Brinks works with in Zambia, which supports young women in building life skills. 
  • Lee Varra-Nelson, New Member Induction – Lee inducted two new members: Scott Sinclair and Joseph Vander Linde.
  • Joseph Van Der Linde, Call for Volunteers - Joseph announced that for those who live in Timnath, they are doing a cleanup of Latham Parkway this coming Sunday 1-3. Signups are at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/keep-timnath-clean-latham-pkwy-cleanup-tickets-148265113947?aff=erelexpmlt
Jen Parker introduced program presenter Mary Ericson, who is the Development Director for CASA of Larimer County
Mary Ericson described how CASA was originally founded by a juvenile court judge in Seattle who, concerned about making decisions about children with insufficient information, conceived the idea of citizen volunteers speaking up for the best interests of abused and neglected children in the courtroom.
CASA of Larimer County works in partnership with the National CASA program, and was one of the first CASA programs in Colorado. CASA of Larimer County supports children and families in Larimer County through two core programs; Court Appointed Special Advocates and Family Connections- Visitation and Exchange services.
Mary explained that there is a tremendous need for these services and subsequently a need to recruit new volunteers. 
She stated that there are more than 600 children annually who have open "dependence and neglect" cases and that CASA is currently only able to serve 54% of those cases. Therefore, CASA of Larimer County has set a goal to swear in 100 new volunteers in 2021; by April, they have succeeded in swearing in 44/100 and they hope that they might encourage members of Fort Collins Rotary Breakfast to consider becoming "CASA"s. 
As a CASA - which stands for Court Appointed Special Advocate - you would meet weekly or biweekly with a child who is in foster care due to an issue of dependency or neglect within their family of origin. 
Depending on the age of the child, which can be from infancy to 17-18 years old, volunteer activities can range from playing with a baby to assess whether they're achieving development milestones as expected for their age, or helping a teen learn how to cook as they transition out of foster care to living on their own. CASAs write weekly reports about the child and advise family court judges about recommended next steps for a child.
Mary emphasized how vital the CASA volunteer is, as a stable, positive adult role model in the life of a child who can experience a lot of volatility in the months during which their case moves through the court and family services systems. 
President Tim Cochran asked club member Craig Campbell to share his experience with CASAs when he was a foster parent. Craig emphatically agreed with Mary that the CASA was essential to a child and the child's foster parents, helping them to understand what was really going on as the child's case moved through the system, and helping the foster parent to understand the child's experiences, behaviors, and needs for emotional support. 
Mary also emphasized that, because they seek to have CASAs who "represent the children they advocate for," they welcome volunteers of both male and female genders and have a real need for male volunteers currently. 
Because of Covid-19, some volunteer meetings with children and some volunteer supervised visitations of the child with family are virtual but some are still by necessity in person with the appropriate precautions taken to reduce the risk of infection.
To become a CASA, a club member would:
  • Fill out an application.
  • Go through a screening process.
  • Interview with staff.
  • Need to pass a background check.
  • Train to understand the trauma that children might experience, learn about the substance abuse their family members might experience, and learn about the court and family services systems.
Club members inquired how else the club might help CASA of Larimer County and Mary replied that they could use help with the following:
  • Small recurring donations to help them grow
  • Help with maintenance and administrative tasks at their Harmony House location
  • Help with raising community awareness of the program
For more information about how to volunteer or donate, visit the website for CASA of Larimer County:

Good News:
  • Jen Parker - Jen announced that both of her kids had graduated in a virtual, live-streamed ceremony from the Colorado State University oval. She made a "shout out" to the class of 2021 and all that they had endured on the way to graduation.
  • Craig Campbell - Craig announced that the Rotary International Trustees and Board of Directors had placed more emphasis on environmental concerns in the criteria to choose scholarship recipients and that both of the recipients of the scholarship this year were going into natural resource management and were concerned about water conservation and use in some fashion.
  • Ron Catterson - Ron's son, a graduation senior at Colorado State University accepted an internship in Durango and Ron and the family are looking forward to visiting him there.
  • David Haage - David is excited to say that he can soon visit his Mom, in person, in Nebraska!
  • John Hintzeman - John was happy to announce that Lucille, former exchange student from Bordeaux, France, is engaged and that his family is looking forward to attending the wedding in Florence Italy on August 14th. 
  • J Burton - J announced that she completed her certification program and is now officially a "Story Grid Certified Editor," and she shared her associated business website with the club: https://language-is-a-superpower.com/