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June 24, 2009 > Sanctuary for children

Sanctuary for children

By Meenu Gupta

One candle lights another. The message is simple for Milpitas-based Child Advocates of Silicon Valley, beneath the ongoing assessments, care and encouragement that the volunteers shower on children. For kids who have been abused, neglected, abandoned, the organization stands as a beacon of love and hope.

Court appointed special advocate (CASA) volunteers are trained by the non-profit organization. The advocates help children realize their potential by consistently showing up for weekly outings with the child and through ongoing assessment of the child's needs. Co-founded in 1986 by Judge Leonard Edwards and a community volunteer, Child Advocates is the only organization appointed by the Santa Clara County Juvenile Dependency Court to represent the needs of kids who have faced daunting challenges very early in life.

Ever since its inception, the organization has cared for over 15,000 children. "Our Advocates have volunteered over 1.2 million hours" said Communications Manager Jerry Fontanares.

Each year the organization hosts a Birdhouse Bash in which over 90 handcrafted birdhouses and garden items are auctioned to raise funds to support their work. The event annually draws hundreds of people who bid on over 100 items in silent and live auctions. This year was no different.

"The event and the dinner the night before raised over $44,000 for Child Advocates" said Executive Director Vickie Scott Grove. Over 100 birdhouses and other items were sold, and over 100 people attended. "Everyone enjoyed the perfect weather, beautiful gardens and lovely artwork" she said.

Community volunteers are welcome to apply. "We do expect a one year commitment and the volunteers will go through training in July and attend orientation" said Fontanares. Training topics will include Core and Education Advocacy, introduction to Core Advocate training, Core Advocate roles and responsibilities, Core advocate narrative, placements and foster care.

Summer training begins on July 6 and will be Monday, Wednesday, Friday mornings from 9:30 to 12:30, including all day Saturday, July 18. It will run until July 23 for core training and July 28 for education training.

September core training begins on September 8 and will be every Tuesday, Thursday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., including all day Saturday, September 12, and runs until October 6. To learn more about becoming an Advocate visit www.BeMyAdvocate.org or call (408) 573-5665. "The first step, however, is to attend one of our one hour orientations," said Grove.

Child Advocates of Silicon Valley
Sobrato Center for Nonprofits
509 Valley Way, Milpitas
(408)573-5665

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