Record Attendance, Funds Raised For Ladies Night Out

Mid-Ozark CASA’s Ladies Night Out saw double the attendance and money raised during its March 19 event at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Cuba.

Ladies Night Out is one of two fundraisers for CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate), along with its golf tournament.

“We had our best Ladies Night Out ever,” said Mary Heywood. “We have had nothing but positive feedback about moving to a larger venue at the Knights of Columbus. Everyone had a great time.”

There were 30 vendors, 218 guests and nearly $9,000 was raised. 

“I would especially like to credit our board of directors for stepping up and doing the majority of the food themselves,” Heywood said. “Everyone loved it and wants the same next year.”

Heywood said CASA was grateful for the donations of purses that were auctioned off and gift baskets that were part of a silent auction.

CASA receives a Victims of Crime Assistance (VOCA) grant that allows the organization to pay four part-time employees to train and support volunteers across the five counties it serves: Crawford, Dent, Iron, Reynolds and Wayne. 

“But that grant only pays 80 percent of our expenses,” Heywood said. “We have to pay 20 percent and all administrative costs. We don’t receive any money from the court, like some other programs do. We are an independent 501c3, which means we are supported by donations and grants.”

On the plus side, Heywood said, CASA is not tied to a court budget.

When Janet Jones and Heywood took over the program in 2009, CASA had three volunteers mentoring six children. Last year there were 45 volunteers who mentored 110 children, Heywood said.

“The impact the program has made in the 42nd Circuit is huge,” she said. “A CASA volunteer commits to visiting a child once a month for as long as the child is in the court system. Sometimes the CASA is the child’s only visitor outside of the caseworker from the children’s division.”

Heywood said caseworkers are taking care of approximately 30 cases or more, while the volunteer can concentrate on one or two children. 

“The impact is great,” she said.

Heywood said she has been doing volunteer work all of her life, beginning with selling balloons with her mother to support March of Dimes when she was 10, but CASA has been the most rewarding work she has done.

“We have a saying on our wall, ‘To the world you may be one person, but to one person you are the world.’ That’s what CASA is about, saving the world one child at a time.”

Sullivan Independent News

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