Story by Bora Laci. Photos provided by Dallas CASA.
In the heart of Dallas, there exists an organization dedicated to a noble mission – protecting and restoring the innocence of children who have experienced abuse or neglect. Dallas CASA, short for Court Appointed Special Advocates, is not just an organization; it’s a lifeline for vulnerable children.
Meet Brooke Donelson, a passionate advocate for Dallas CASA and one of its dedicated board members. Brooke’s journey is a testament to this organization’s incredible impact on our community. Since 2018, she has worked tirelessly on four assigned cases, and her dedication reflects the core values of Dallas CASA.
Dallas CASA is dedicated to protecting children and restoring their stolen childhoods. Their trained and supervised community volunteers, assigned by judges, advocate for the best interests of children who have experienced abuse or neglect and are living in the protective care of the state. In 2023 alone, 1,240 Dallas CASA volunteers were assigned to advocate for 2,151 children in protective care.
Dallas CASA hosts the annual CASAblanca event, which is crucial for raising awareness and funds to support the organization’s critical work. This year’s CASAblanca theme, “A Red-Carpet Affair,” emphasizes community involvement and support. It deviates from the typical non-profit banquet format, focusing instead on creating a dynamic and engaging experience.
“It’s a formal event but with a heart of celebration and community engagement,” Brooke explains.
The primary goals of CASAblanca are to spread awareness of Dallas CASA’s mission and to engage young professionals in the community. The event also fosters partnerships with local companies through sponsorships and in-kind donations. “We aim to encourage more young professionals to become advocates and support Dallas CASA,” Brooke says.
Since the inception of CASA advocacy, Dallas volunteers have helped thousands of children find safe, permanent homes. Beyond the vital role of volunteers, Dallas CASA is committed to community engagement and support. They believe that real change happens when a community comes together to protect its most vulnerable members. By spreading awareness and fostering partnerships with local companies, Dallas CASA aims to create a network of compassionate individuals and organizations dedicated to the welfare of children in crisis.
As a testament to their dedication, Dallas CASA’s impact extends beyond their annual CASAblanca event. This event is more than a celebration; it’s an opportunity for the community to rally together to support Dallas CASA’s mission. By participating in CASAblanca and other events organized by the Young Professionals board, community members play an essential role in ensuring that every child’s voice is heard, and that every child’s future is filled with hope.
Since 2019, every youth entering the Dallas County child welfare system has had a Dallas CASA advocate, highlighting the profound impact of events like CASAblanca. “These events are not just about fundraising; they’re about building a community and a network dedicated to a shared cause,” Brooke emphasizes.
For Brooke, CASAblanca is a personal highlight. “It’s amazing to see the mix of people, all united by a desire to help our community,” she shares. A special thanks to Hannah Harpole and Amanda Rodriguez, who, alongside Brooke Donelson, have been instrumental as co-chairs in orchestrating this event. Their dedication and hard work have been pivotal in bringing CASAblanca to life.
Brooke extends a heartfelt message to supporters: “Your involvement makes a real difference. This event brings together ambitious, philanthropic young professionals deeply engaged in bettering our community. Your participation, whether as an attendee or donor, contributes significantly to our mission.”
Aside from the CASAblanca night, The Young Professionals board maintains a monthly cadence of events, including happy hours, a pickleball tournament, an annual holiday spirit walk on Knox Street, networking brunches, and more. Brooke emphasizes these events are not just about fundraising; they are about building a community and a network dedicated to a shared cause.
DallasCASA is a beacon of hope and support for the children in the Dallas County child welfare system. As Brooke puts it, “It’s close to home and close to heart.” This event is a shining example of how community involvement can make a tangible difference in the lives of those in need.