Methodist Children’s Home Family Outreach and CASA of the Coastal Bend partnered to plant pinwheels to represent the 890 children that were in foster care throughout 2020 Wednesday.
The pinwheel implantation is also to recognize April as Child Abuse Prevention Month.
Marisol Gomez, director of MCH Family Outreach, said both nonprofits have partnered for about five years. She had originally started to plant the pinwheels at her main building, but reached out to CASA to spread awareness.
“The pinwheels are supposed to represent the playfulness that kiddos are supposed to experience in their childhood,” Gomez said. “The kids in foster care didn’t get that normal childhood. We want to advocate for them to get that normalcy.”
Samantha Koepp-Stemplinger, marketing and recruitment manager of CASA of the Coastal Bend, said the nonprofit is in need of volunteers to help children in foster care.
“The CASA volunteers are an advocate on behalf of the child and speak for the child in and outside of court,” Koepp-Stemplinger said. “It’s a volunteer role, but the commitment you make means so much for these kids.”
CASA of the Coastal Bend currently has 105 volunteers, but Koepp-Stemplinger said they need double that number.
“We’re serving about 40% of kids in care between the Nueces and Aransas counties,” Koepp-Stemplinger said. “There’s 240 children in foster care right now from those counties, so we definitely need all the help we can get.”
Gomez said child abuse should not be happening and people should not be trying to normalize it.
“Some people think, ‘Oh, that’s their business. I shouldn’t get involved,'” Gomez said. “No, we need them to get involved. Yes, we’re doing planting pinwheels for this month, but the community needs to be helpful and aware throughout the year.”
On Thursday, CASA of the Coastal Bend is hosting a virtual community awareness event, Ringing of the Bells, via Zoom from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. A bell ringing ceremony will take place for children who are victims of abuse and neglect.
The event will be hosted by CASA board member and KRIS 6 news anchor Paulo Salazar. Community partners, including local child welfare agencies, will share services they provide for children and families as well as opportunities for the public to get involved to support their programs.
The public is invited to attend this free virtual event by visiting us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_eREy9XGtTaezY8xN3vqr9g?fbclid=IwAR1n_Zv5z3DwslauqlovNWbPHbVkPl6gckrWTrwDXL6QsjYf4JG0MmNDLPQ to receive access to attend the event.
John Oliva covers education and community news in South Texas. Consider supporting local journalism with a subscription to the Caller-Times.