The CCHS Jazz Choir will join other performers in a concert to benefit Central Oregons Court Appointed Special Advocates

by: KEVIN SPERL - The Crook County High School's Jazz Choir will lend their voices to the 'Voices of Hope' concert in February, to benefit Central Oregon's Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA).

“To give a child a CASA Volunteer is to give them a voice. To give them a voice is to give them hope."

This quote from "Pamela," a former foster child graces the home page of Central Oregon's Court Appointed Special Advocates' (CASA) website.

The voices of Crook County High School's (CCHS) jazz choir will help provide such hope, as they perform in the CASA benefit concert, "Voices of Hope," taking place at Bend's Tower Theater in February.

"Every child in foster care needs hope for a brighter future," said Pam Fortier, executive director of CASA of Central Oregon. "And, it is because of these performers that we will be able to provide the over 20 children on our waiting list, in Crook County, an advocate."

The benefit, "Something Wonderful: The Rodgers and Hammerstein Concert," features the Mt. View High School Andante, the Men's Chorus of Central Oregon, and the Central Oregon Community College Cascade Chorale, along with 16 members of CCHS's choir.

The reputation of the choir had found its way to Fortier's desk so that when planning this year's program, CASA contacted Choir Director Hannah Moorman to see if the singers would like to participate.

"Hannah was very excited to join us,” said Fortier, adding that the concert is a big commitment for the students.

Established in Central Oregon in 1992, CASA provides services in Crook, Deschutes, and Jefferson County, and maintains offices in Bend, Prineville, and Madras.

CASA volunteers, appointed by judges to advocate for abused and neglected children up to the age of 21, remain in touch with foster children, for approximately 10 to15 hours per month, until the child is placed in a safe, permanent home.

According to the national CASA organization, children paired with a volunteer are more likely to receive therapy, health care, and education, do better in school, and have a better chance of being placed in safe and permanent homes.

What started out as a low-key benefit in 2009, “Voices of Hope” was held, last year, at Bend’s Tower Theater, selling out two performances and raising $30,000.

Fortier’s hope, for this year is to raise $44,000, noting that it takes $1,500 per year to support each foster child.

In 2013, 88 CASA volunteers advocated for 236 children, but, due to limited resources, another 86 children remained in foster care, lacking the critical support provided by volunteers.

For those who may want to volunteer, Fortier asks only that they have a passion for children.

“We have volunteers from all walks of life,” she said. “And the beauty of CASA is that our only agenda is what is best for children.”

Fortier noted that, last year, 63 Crook County children benefited from the support of CASA volunteers, and that money raised from the upcoming concert enhances the organization’s ability to help.

“Revenue generated from this concert allows us to recruit more volunteers, provide 34 hours of pre-service training for them, and complete extensive background checks,” said Fortier. “Events like ‘Voices of Hope’ allow us to continue our support for CASA volunteers, and their advocacy for every child in foster care. And, we really need volunteers in Crook County."

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