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CASA mission strikes deep chord for singer-author

CASA mission strikes deep chord for singer-author

November 14th, 2017 by Brittany Hilderbrand in Local News

Country singer Jimmy Wayne sings Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016, for a Capital City CASA fundraiser at the Millbottom. CASA advocates for the best interests of abused and neglected children with the 19th Judicial Circuit of Missouri.

Photo by Shelby Kardell /News Tribune.

Capital City Court Appointed Special Advocates will host an evening with country artist and author Jimmy Wayne as a fundraiser for the organization

Wayne will return to Jefferson City at 7 p.m. Nov. 28 at the Miller Performing Arts Center, 501 Madison St., to share his story of foster care through his music.

Wayne learned about CASA during his walk halfway across America. In 2010, he launched a "Meet Me Halfway" campaign in support of foster children, walking from Memphis, Tennessee, to Phoenix, Arizona.

He recalls 100 percent of people he encountered on his walk had no clue that children age out of the foster care system.

"I've been doing this (raising awareness) professionally for 18 years, and this is what I like to do," Wayne told the News Tribune. "When I learned of the work being done by the volunteers here in Jefferson City, I knew I wanted to be a part of this because they have these kids' best interest at heart."

In Wayne's book, "Walk To Beautiful," he talks about the role models who gave him a chance and never gave up on him — Mrs. Friday, his sixth-grade teacher, and Bea, a woman who became his guardian at age 16.

His interest in writing began when Mrs. Friday encouraged him to keep a journal, he said. He still remains in contact with her.

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In his newest book, "Ruby The Foster Dog," Wayne shares a colorful story of hope, trust and love from the perspective of Ruby, a foster dog who always dreamed of having a forever home. Wayne adopts Ruby, and they make the trek halfway across America together.

"My story is no different from others; I just happen to have a platform to tell it on," Wayne said.

Local country artist Jason Luebbering will give the opening performance at 6 p.m. Nov. 28.

CASA's emphasis is on supplying advocates for children in the court system.

"We want people to understand what CASA is all about and what the children in our community are going through," CASA President Kathy Farmer said. "We wanted to make sure the community has the opportunity to hear Wayne's story."

CASA Executive Director Gina Clement said 250 children annually are removed from their homes in Cole County. CASA currently serves 113 children with 58 volunteers.

"Our goal is to be the one consistent person in this child's life," Clement said. "When they go into foster care, they can move around multiple times, which means their probably switching schools and missing class. We work with the judges to prevent that from happening."

The money from this fundraiser will go toward recruiting and training more volunteer coordinators and advocates, she explained. Volunteer coordinators are limited to handling 30 advocates or volunteers at one time, according to guidelines set by the National CASA organization.

For example, a sibling group of three children would be counted as three separate cases to be split up among the advocates.

"It's hard to take on additional volunteers because we don't have enough paid volunteer coordinators needed. For us, additional funding means additional volunteer coordinators and volunteers enabling us to take on additional cases," CASA board member Jim Landwehr said.

People interested in volunteering should contact CASA at 573-893-2272.

Farmer said the organization's long-term goal is to hire a specialist who specifically deals with children ages 14-21.

Tickets for the fundraiser concert are $25 and can be purchased online at capitalcitycasa.org, as well as at Carrie's Hallmark Shop, Hy-Vee, Marshall & Company, Samuel's Tuxedos and Gifts and the United Way of Central Missouri office.

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