Story and photos by Janell Bethea.
On a regular day, eight years ago, Jana was walking through the mall when her nieces spotted something that would change The Brosin family’s life for the better. As is tradition, the Dallas CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) had their playhouses on display in NorthPark Center to bring attention to the needs of children in foster-care. Jana was so intrigued that she not only learned about why the playhouses were so important, but also made the life changing commitment to volunteer for Dallas CASA. As an advocate, Jana has been serving for children who have been abused or neglected. Mike, Jana’s husband and General Manager of Crest Auto Group in Frisco, was so inspired by the dedication and passion he saw from his wife that it led him to have his own desire to help. So when he found out there was a very special way that he could assist, there was no hesitation. The past five years Crest has served as a presenting sponsor for the creative playhouses. Together, Mike’s company and family have built several different playhouses: Crest Garage, Crest Hobbit House, Bro’s Diner and Crest Camper, and this year a rocket ship inspired by the latest SpaceX launch.
Each year Crest promotes individuals and families to enter a raffle that will permit someone to win the new creative playhouse. Once selected, the individual is able to make a choice: either the winner can take the playhouse home or donate the playhouse to a foster family, for kids in care to enjoy. Twice Crest has also offered to purchase the playhouse back from the winner and move the playhouse to their business location in Frisco, creating a safe place for children to come and play.
The effort that Jana and Mike Brosin put into their playhouses hardly goes unnoticed. Each year their outreach strategies bring more and more volunteers. Their attention-grabbing playhouses are staffed with current CASA volunteers who are able to educate the public and inspire more individuals to donate and get involved.
Mike and Jana urge the public to find ways to give back to children in these vulnerable positions. Each day, there are over 180 children in Texas that are abused. Unfortunately, that need is not met with nearly enough volunteers that are able to serve all of the children entering care. Nevertheless, with combined efforts of the playhouses and other Dallas CASA outreach strategies, there has been a significant increase of volunteers available in recent years. Mike and Jana hope that one day there will be more than enough volunteers for each child entering care.
To volunteer for Dallas CASA, go to dallascasa.org. Volunteers will undergo approximately 30 hours of training that will educate and empower them to be able to best help these at-risk youth. However, if becoming an advocate is not for you, the Brosins also suggest donating suitcases so children won’t have their personal belongings in trash bags, formal dresses for youth wanting to attend homecoming and prom, and toys for the children to enjoy.
The Dallas CASA 25th annual Parade of Playhouses closes its raffle on July 26. All 10 playhouses are available for viewing online. The playhouses are free to see, and for a chance to win one you can purchase a raffle ticket for $5 each, or five tickets for $20. Visit the Dallas CASA website to enter!