Waxahachie Civic Center was the place to be Feb. 12 as CASA of Ellis County hosted their inaugural “Share the Love” Gala. 

District Judge Bob Carroll was honored with the first Founder’s Award as the capacity crowd of almost 400 enjoyed an evening filled with fine dining catered by Linda Rodriguez of My Sister’s Affair and entertainment featuring Eddie Irving and the Classic Swing Band. 

Major sponsors for the event included Action Fire Pros, Dallas North Rotary, Greg Wilhelm family, and a multitude of other corporate and individual sponsors.

“We chose to honor Judge Carroll, as a way to show our gratitude for his visionary guidance and contagious enthusiasm in bringing CASA to our County to be a voice for children who have no voice,” said Rhodie Rawls, Executive Director of CASA of Ellis County. 

“We were so honored to have Judge Jim Chapman, Judge Gene Calvert, Representative Jim Pitts, Senator Brian Birdwell, and several of our elected officials in attendance,” said Rawls.

In addition, many of our County’s dignitaries donated baked goods for the silent auction, which along with the live auction, advertising and sponsorships, exceeded all expectations in raising funds to support the local non-profit which serves abused and neglected children. 

Auctioneer Jeff Copeland kept the audience laughing and thoroughly entertained not only the bidders but the spectators in getting the best bid for the donated items. 

At the end of the evening, the CASA staff repeatedly heard comments like, “We’ve never laughed so much and had such a good time at a fundraising event, and we’ll be back next year.” 

Also honored at the Feb. 12 event was Lynn Lepper, who received the CASA Volunteer of the Year Award for her exemplary service to CASA and the children she served last year.

In 2004, with the endorsement of Texas CASA, plus the support of a volunteer steering committee, and the dedication of attorneys, CPS, counselors, churches, the business community and our citizens, Judge Carroll guided the formation of CASA of Ellis County.

Since being assigned to its first case, CASA Guardians trained and supervised by CASA of Ellis County have volunteered more than 12,000 hours and traveled more than 100,000 miles in fulfillment of their duties. 

With the court allowing attorneys to focus their efforts on a child’s “legal interests” and CASA volunteers to serve the child’s “best interests,” the positive impact of CASA has been clearly demonstrated.

CASA of Ellis County is a member of Texas CASA and National CASA and currently has more than 50 specially trained volunteers who must complete 30 hours of coursework to be able to help in cases where child protective services has removed children from unsafe, abusive or neglectful homes. 

These trained volunteers research the history of the case, meet with the children, parents, relatives, teachers and doctors and help formulate the best plan of action for permanency for the child. 

Volunteers report their findings to the court and testify on behalf of the child.  The efforts of CASA save Ellis County taxpayers countless dollars per year in court costs with the goal of permanent placement within a year from when the child was first removed from the home. 

To learn more about CASA of Ellis County, become a volunteer, or donate to the organization, visit www.casaofelliscounty.org or call 972-937-1455.