CASA Encore continues longstanding tradition for a cause

Published 8:00 am Tuesday, November 12, 2019

While Kappa Alpha Theta is no longer established on the University of Mississippi campus, the UM College Panhellenic board is making sure the chapter’s main fall philanthropy event lives on in the form of CASA Encore. 

First established as Theta Encore in 2002, the event served as a dance competition between new member classes that often sold out the Gertrude Ford Center and Tad Smith Coliseum. It benefited several charitable organizations, but none more so than Court-Appointed Special Advocates, or CASA. 

A CASA volunteer is an individual who acts as a constant, stable presence for an abused or neglected child going through the court system alone. It takes approximately $1,000 to train each CASA volunteer.  

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Erin Smith, Founding Executive Director of CASA of Lafayette County, said the event provides vital funds for the organization. 

“The event hasn’t changed; the name has changed. Any funds we get are very important,” Smith said. “With Theta closing, we weren’t expecting to get any money from this event. We didn’t know if it was going to continue.” 

However, Smith said, knowing the event will live on is “exciting” for herself and others involved in CASA of Lafayette County.  

With the number of children currently in the CASA program, she explained, there is approximately $70,000 the organization needs just to provide resources to the children they’re serving – operational expenses and salaries notwithstanding. 

As of Monday, CASA of Lafayette County volunteers were working with more than 40 children in the LOU Community. 

“When we found out Panhellenic was taking over the event, and that all the proceeds were going to stay local, it’s definitely a weight off our shoulders,” Smith said. “We’re getting ready to expand into Lee County, and with that comes the need for more funds. I spend a lot of my time telling other people about what CASA does and how we help children locally, whether it’s in Lafayette County or in other parts of North Mississippi. And, we’re bringing awareness to the fact that children are abused and neglected, and it happens right in front of us.” 

Last year’s final Theta Encore netted almost $92,000. This year’s event will take place Wednesday night at 7 p.m. at the Gertrude Ford Center. Tickets are $15 apiece and will be available at the door.  

All proceeds will benefit Lafayette County CASA.