November 2015

Ruby Red Shoe Ball raises over $100,000 to support Essex CASA
A sold-out crowd of over 300 guests attended Essex CASA's Ruby Red Shoe Ball on November 13th at Green Brook Country Club. Featuring all kinds of red shoes from sneakers to stilettos, the evening once again celebrated the theme There's no place like home. "We're thrilled to see our event grow each year," says Karen Burns, Executive Director of Essex CASA. "Each year our board brings tremendous energy in spreading the word, opening their networks, and planning a really exciting and fun event for us." CASA Advocate, Shanee Frazier, spoke at the event about her personal reasons for getting involved as a volunteer (watch Shanee's speech here). Essex CASA was proud to recognize our three outstanding honorees - Christina Baker Kline, Anthony Villanueva, and Cathy Pinto - for their support and dedication to CASA's mission (click on the honoree's name to watch their personal videos).

 September 2015
Essex CASA Welcomes 22 New Volunteers
Essex CASA welcomes the following volunteers who completed our September training class:  Sandra Eugene, Kathleen Gosselink, Cynthia Sanders, Angela Wearing, Tracy Williams, Darlene Thornton, Kwasi Bosompem, LaBrea Haynes, Clarie Medina, Rhonda Levell, Andrea Rankin, Eric Benson, Doreen Kruglinski, Vincent Morello, Ellen Maddrey, Tyiesha Hargrove, Ashley Reddick, Adrian Giron, Jennifer Berrian, Kurline Atles, Linda Bradby, Barbara Cox.
Rakeem Mosey Appears on Comcast Newsmakers to
Discuss CASA Advocacy and our 2015 Ruby Red Shoe Ball

July 2015
New Leadership on Essex CASA's Board of Trustees
Essex CASA welcomes Tracy Reilly and Mitch Decter as the new Co-Presidents of our Board of Trustees. They were officially elected to their new position at the Annual Meeting on July 29, 2015. They take over for Lori Chapin, whose strong and visionary leadership over the past two years has been invaluable. Her programmatic experience, fundraising drive, and diplomatic skills have proven exceptional during her tenure. We wish her the absolute best in her next endeavors and look forward to continuing the legacy she has helped build for us at Essex CASA.

 June 2015
Essex CASA says "Thank You" to our Extraordinary Volunteers
Over 100 Advocates and their guests attended CASA's annual Volunteer Recognition Dinner on Tuesday, June 16th, held for the first time at the beautiful Bella Italia Ristorante in Orange, New Jersey. "This is the most important night of the year for CASA," said Board President Lori Chapin, "when celebrate the remarkable dedication of our volunteers. Without them we would have nothing." Staff members shared breathtaking stories about many of the Advocates in attendance, highlighting incredible acts of kindness both big and small. "I am newly inspired by your contribution and the difference you're making in the lives of children," Karen Burns, CASA's Executive Director, told volunteers. Once again, all of us at Essex CASA would like to share our heartfelt thank you to each and every volunteer Advocate for working tirelessly all year long on behalf of abused and neglected children in foster care.

Essex CASA's 20th Annual Golf Outing Defies Mother Nature
Despite a forecast for thunderstorms on Monday June 1st, golfers at CASA's 20th Annual Golf Outing received an unexpected reprieve from the rain to play 18 holes on Green Brook Country Club's award-winning course in North Caldwell. The annual event was a resounding success, grossing over $90,000 to support CASA's work. We would like to thank all the golfers, guests, and sponsors who continue to make this event one of the most exciting days of summer.

 May 2015
Embracing Independence Youth Conference for Aging-Out Youth
Essex CASA partnered with a number of community stakeholders to host the Embracing Independence Youth Conference on May 19th at Rutgers Law School in Newark. The workshop for youth aging-out of foster care featured sessions on financial aid, housing options, college and job readiness, budgeting,  and post-21 resources. Keynote speaker Dr. JahJah Shakur, The Hip Hop Preneur business consultant from the Africana Institute and Essex County College, shared his insights on "Setting Up the Business of Your Future - Talking from my Hip Hop Music Experience." Youth also shared their creative side in the "Dreams in Self-Expression" talent show and self-portrait gallery exhibit. The event was made possible through the collaboration of The Newark Model Children's Court Partners, the Junior Leagues of Montclair/Newark and The Oranges/Short Hills, the United Way of Essex and West Hudson, and with the support of the Superior Court of New Jersey, the Rutgers Child Advocacy Center, the NJ Department of Children & Families, and others. Essex CASA is proud to be a part of this vibrant, innovative community.

 April 2015
Essex CASA Earns GuideStar Exchange Gold Participant Level and
Better Business Bureau Accredited Charity Ranking
Essex CASA is proud to receive the GuideStar Exchange Gold participation level, a leading symbol of transparency and accountability. Essex CASA has also met the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance's 20 Standards for Charity Accountability which seek to encourage fair and honest fundraising by charitable organizations to advance philanthropic support. Both these accreditation demonstrate Essex CASA's commitment to maintaining the highest levels of transparency and ethical conduct for ourselves and the nonprofit community. Visit our profiles at GuideStar and the Better Business Bureau.
Essex CASA Welcomes 20 New Volunteers
Essex CASA welcomes the following volunteers who completed our March training class:  Adrian Davis, Angelica Calderon, Beata Souders, Carolina Santos, Corletta Hicks, Gerard Tamburino, Hilary Richards-Barnes, Jessica Mackey, Mujiba Wadud, Nykia Wharton, Paula Fields, Rachel McClory, Rebecca Leon, Regina Mills, Rickey and William Slezak, Sareh Khoshi, Susan Tarnofsky, Terrene Collins, and Valeria Sanchez. Thank you for making a difference in the life of a child!

 March 2015

7th Annual Spin for a Child a Huge Success!
Click here for more photos from Spin for a Child 2015
Essex CASA's 7th annual Spin for a Child fundraiser was held at 3Sixty Cycling & Fitness Studio on Sunday March 1st. This exhilarating, high energy indoor spinning event included over 70 participants and raised more than $38,000 from hundreds of donors and supporters. 100% of donations to Spin for a Child benefit abused and neglected children in Essex County and the volunteer Advocates who speak up on their behalf. To learn more about Spin for a Child or to donate visit

 February 2015
Rachel Simon Appears on Comcast Newsmakers to
Discuss the Role of a CASA Advocate
Click here to learn more about volunteering with CASA

 January 2015
Essex CASA Welcomes 12 New Volunteers 
Essex CASA is proud to have the following volunteers join our January training class to become advocates for children in foster care:  Aja Bundy, Mary Funari, Lois Hull, Yoon Jang, Joan McCusker, Andy McLaughlin, Allison McNally, Howard Menaker, Elizabeth Modero, Kathleen Perrotta, Alison Rosenthal, and Kathleen Swearer. Thank you for making a difference in the life of a child!
 December 2014
Essex CASA Receives Hundreds of Holiday Gift Donations
Essex CASA would like to thank several groups for generously donating hundreds of holiday gifts for our children this year:  Essex Fells School, NJIT Career Services Department, Agudath ECC, ILA Local 1233, Spelman Alumnae Association NJ Chapter, American Society of Interior Designers.
Below are just a few of the many toys, games, and gift cards taking up an entire desk at the CASA office! Thank you for thinking of CASA and our children this holiday season!

Essex CASA Staff & Volunteers Celebrate the Season at Annual Holiday Party
On December 11th, nearly a hundred Essex CASA staff and Advocates came out to the Van Vleck House & Gardens in Montclair for one of our best holiday parties yet! From our newest volunteers (some of whom just joined us this month!) to our decade-long veterans, we all enjoyed an evening among CASA friends. Not to mention some great food and music! Check out the short video below of Tracy Reilly, former Advocate and current Vice President of our Board of Trustees, speaking at the event.

Bloomingdale's Supports Essex CASA through "Shopping Works Wonders"
Bloomingdale's at the Willowbrook Mall featured Essex CASA as their charity partner for a "Shopping Works Wonders" day on December 10th. CASA staff spent the day at the mall and lots of friends and supporters came out to shop for the holidays. A big 'Thank You' to Bloomingdale's for the opportunity to spread the word...and of course for donating 10% of sales to support our program!

 November 2014
Essex CASA is Proud to Participate in National Adoption Day
Essex CASA is proud to partner with the Division of Child Protection & Permanency, the NJ Superior Court, and community volunteers to celebrate 2014 National Adoption Day. On Friday November 14th, adoptions for 45 foster children were officially confirmed by the Judges of the Family Court. Brothers, sisters, moms, dads, grandparents and friends celebrated together this final step in creating their "forever families." Click here to read the story of one CASA family whose incredible journey led them to this very special day.
 The four Nelson siblings pose on Adoption Day with their CASA volunteer Advocate, CASA Case Supervisor, and DCPP Caseworkers.
CASA's 2014 Ruby Red Shoe Ball a Huge Success!

 September 2014
Patricia Devine-Harms Announced as Honoree of Ruby Red Shoe Ball

Essex CASA announces Patricia Devine-Harms, Civic Leader and Community Advocate, as the honoree for the third annual Ruby Red Shoe Ball. Patricia has donated thousands of hours to our community including her roles as past Chair of the Junior Leagues of NJ State Public Affairs Committee and as a key member of the NJ Coalition Against Human Trafficking. "We are thrilled to be able to shine a light on the work she has done," said Karen Burns, Executive Director of Essex CASA. The Ruby Red Shoe Ball will be held on November 1st at Green Brook Country Club in North Caldwell.

Karen Burns Appears on Comcast Newsmakers to
Discuss Essex CASA's Upcoming Volunteer Training

 August 2014
Essex CASA Welcomes Several New Faces
The end of summer brings with it new members of the CASA team, including two new Case Supervisors and two new trustees to our Board. Lauren Kestenbaum and Stephanie Brown join our program service staff and Jill Rosenthal and Meredith Prithviraj expand our Board of Trustees.
 July 2014
Essex CASA Establishes New Collaboration with the Newark Public Schools
CASA for Children of Essex County is proud to announce a Memorandum of Understanding with the Newark Public Schools. The Memorandum establishes formal collaboration between CASA and NPS as "collegial partners" in serving the educational needs of Newark's foster youth. It acknowledges and promotes CASA's role in "support[ing] each CASA Student's positive view of school through direct dialogue with [school personnel] encourage his or her overall educational progress." CASA is committed to ensuring all children in foster care receive the educational services to which they are entitled.

Click here to see Essex CASA featured on the Urban Philanthropist
The Urban Philanthropist, by Rakeem Sharif, is a blog for the engaged activist, highlighting issues within the community that are often ignored or unaddressed.

 June 2014
Congratulations to CASA's Class of 2014!

The end of the 2013-14 school year awarded 17 Essex CASA students their high school diploma. CASA staff and volunteers are proud to have been guests at so many joyful graduation celebrations this year. Congratulations to Terrel, Kaneesha, Eugene, Darnisha, Malasia, Isaiah, Ruben, Terrell, Raheem, Assata, Kyra, Candice, Luis, Nadiyah, Elaine, Ricky, and Louise! 
Essex CASA Wins National Diversity and Inclusion Award
On June 9, 2014, at the National CASA Conference in Dallas, TX, Essex CASA received the National CASA Inclusion Award for their promotion of inclusiveness and diversity among volunteers, board members and staff. "We are incredibly proud to be recognized out of 900 national is the open-minded people of Essex County - and the people of Newark in a very special way - who have stepped up to help our abused and neglected children," says Karen Burns, Executive Director of CASA for Children of Essex County. Read the full press release here.
Karen Burns Appears on Comcast Newsmakers to
Discuss Essex CASA's Volunteer Opportunities


Did you know...?
  • Over 2,000 children pass through the foster care system in Essex County each year.
  • Despite having less than 10% of the total state population, Essex County is home to 16% of the state's foster children. That's more than the next two largest counties combined (Hudson & Camden).
  • Over 80% of Essex CASA's children come from just two county municipalities – Newark and East Orange.
  • Nearly all foster children come from families with incomes below the poverty line.
  • Many children enter foster care with physical and mental health problems directly attributable to the abuse and neglect they have suffered, as well as the tragic legacy of their parent's substance abuse.
  • Although the number of children in foster care in Essex County is steadily decreasing, the children who remain in care or come into care have increasingly complex and demanding needs. CASA is the only organization dedicated exclusively to ensuring their well-being one child at a time.