On Saturday, February 28, at Greenacres Country Club in Lawrenceville, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Mercer County Inc. hosted CASA Mardi Gras, an event benefiting abused and neglected children in the foster care system in Mercer County. With total attendance of about 200, the benefit featured entertainment by the acclaimed New York City-based Jambalaya Brass Band, who led “The World’s Shortest Mardi Gras Parade,” marching the guests into the main dining room.

Brenda Ross-Dulan, region president of Wells Fargo Southern New Jersey, served as honorary chair, while our event co-chairs were Paula Harrington, principal of Association Business Solutions, and Tennille McCoy, human resources manager for Aramark. The committee members who so generously contributed their time and skills were Stuart Dember, Dorice Hartman, Amy Heffern, Maggie Hill, Cindy Hollender, Cosmo Iacavazzi, and Susan Smotrich. Thanks are also due Russo Music Center of Hamilton, who donated the sound equipment for the performance by the Jambalaya Brass Band.

Just over $90,000 was raised through the event, which included both a silent auction and live auction, where guests had the opportunity to fund advocacy services for 1, 3, 6 and 12 months. We deeply thank our lead corporate sponsors: Wells Fargo and Diversityinc, as well as New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Group (NJM), 1WorldSync, Bracco Diagnostics, Coopers Ferry Partnership, First Choice Bank, Investors Bank, PNC Bank, Mercer County Community College and PBA Local 105.

The mission of CASA for Children of Mercer and Burlington Counties is to train and supervise community volunteers, appointed by the Family Court, to advocate for the best interests of children who have been removed from their homes due to abuse and/neglect. Our dedicated volunteers strive to ensure the emotional, physical, and educational well-being of these children while they reside in foster homes or residential facilities. The ultimate goal of our volunteers is to help establish a safe, stable and permanent home for each child we serve.

Finally, we have to acknowledge the selfless commitment of our nearly 200 volunteer advocates who so ably represent the best interests of the children they serve. For those interested in becoming an advocate in Mercer or Burlington Counties, one-hour information sessions are being held this Spring at both our Ewing and Mount Holly offices. Please visit www.casamercer.org or call 609-434-0050 for more information.

Randall Kirkpatrick

Director of Community Development, CASA for Children of Mercer and Burlington Counties

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