Hats off to Essex County high school students bringing a voice to abused and neglected children through a coordinated effort for CASA advocacy & community awareness.

In support of all the children living without a safe and permanent home, Essex County schools pitched tens and slept outdoors Friday night (May 3rd).   The County family court Judge Thomas Zampino visited them and gave them an overview of the life of a a child in foster care.

CASA volunteers created the Camp Out For CASA concept to promote child welfare and a more active community.

If your CASA organization has done great and interesting things, send them to me that we can show the rest of the country (we also have readers all over the world).


Local Voices

Teens Camp Out for Essex County CASA

Posted on May 9, 2013 at 5:32 pm

Students from James Caldwell, West Orange, West Essex and Montclair High Schools pitched tents and opened their hearts and minds on Friday night, May 3 at Essex County’s Mayapple Hill campgrounds in the South Mountain Reservation as participants in CAMP OUT FOR CASA.  Nearly 50 students spent an evening under the stars and gave up their beds for one night to show support for the thousands of children in their community without a safe and permanent home. Timed to coincide with National Foster Care Month in May, CAMP OUT FOR CASA was the first of its kind. A youth-led event that raised social awareness about the challenges faced by foster children and the work of volunteers who are dedicated to improving their futures.

Retired Essex County family court Judge Thomas Zampino welcomed the students, huddled under blankets and sleeping bags, and gave them a firsthand overview of the life of a child in foster care. He praised the efforts of the group of assembled students, imploring them to continue to stay engaged in community service, emphasizing that each and every one of them can make a difference in someone’s life. An informative and poignant panel discussion followed, moderated by James Caldwell High School teachers  Christina Astorino and Cheryl Baut. The panel consisted of two Rutgers University students from the Project M.Y.S.E.L.F. direct-service program, who shared their personal  and often painful experiences navigating their way through the foster care system. Joining them were two CASA Advocates, Ami Talkow and John Duffy, who shared their insights as community volunteers advocating for youth in foster care.

“CAMP OUT FOR CASA exceeded our expectations on every level. This was our first time organizing an awareness raising event and we were just blown away by the enthusiasm and engagement on the part of the students,” commented Rachel Simon, Essex County CASA Director of Operations.

According to Ethan Meth, a senior at James Caldwell High School, and founder of the Camp Out for CASA concept, the project was a success. “We were wet and cold and some of us were covered in mud, but it didn’t matter. We all bonded for this important cause. It was the greatest feeling to walk down the halls of my school on Monday and hear kids talking about Camp Out for CASA.”

Essex County CASA is a non-profit organization which works through professionally trained and supervised volunteers to promote the welfare of children in Essex County who have been removed from their homes because of abuse, neglect, or abandonment.

CASA serves as a child’s “Voice in Court,” working to insure that needed services and assistance are made available while helping to move the child toward a safe and permanent home.

Essex County CASA would like to thank Freeholder Len Luciano and the Essex County Parks Department’s Daniel Salvante and Frank Gesumaria for their assistance. Food donations were provided by Dunkin Donuts and Manhattan Bagel of West Caldwell and Shoprite of West Orange.