CASA Encore supports local advocacy program

Published 3:24 pm Tuesday, September 21, 2021

As the second week begins for the 2nd Annual CASA Encore event, participating sororities at the University of Mississippi have raised more than $86,000 for the court-appointed advocacy program.

Ten Panhellenic sororities at the University of Mississippi are participating in the two-week event, which includes a blood drive, fundraising efforts and a dance competition.

“It’s been a pretty big event since it’s inception and I’m incredibly thankful for Ole Miss Panhellenic for taking over this event,” said Erin Smith, Executive Director of CASA. “As a local non-profit, we obviously depend on grants and we depend on individual fundraising. These sororities that participate really go above and beyond, not just giving up their time but they also raise an incredible amount of money.”

CASA is a non-profit organization that advocates for the best interests of abused and neglected children through the appointment of court-appointed, screened, trained community volunteers.

Encore began as a Kappa Alpha Theta event, but when the sorority closed in 2018, Panhellenic took over the event and renamed it CASA Encore to continue the support.

Madeleine Zacks, college panhellenic vice president of philanthropy, said she is excited to have Encore happen for the second time.

“It’s a two-week event, but I’ve been preparing for about a year now,” said Zacks.

. Mississippi Blood Services is working in partnership with the sororities and CASA to conduct the drive that began Monday and will end on Wednesday. Donations will be taken from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Fundraising efforts continue through Sept. 23 through Crowd Change.  As of Tuesday, over $86,000 which is more than halfway to the goal of $150,000.

“We’re really impressed by how far the sororities have taken us in fundraising, but we’re really excited about all the money we are going to get to raise for CASA,” said Zacks. 

In the third and final event, the 10n sororities will compete in a dance competition held at the Gertrude C. Ford Center at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. Recruitment for the competition was completed a month ago and have prepared for the event ever since with the help of CASA Encore coaches placed in every chapter to help fundraise and choreograph routines.

Nearly 150 women will showcase their talents in a variety of performances ranging from cheerleading to jazz to ballet. Tickets are priced at $15 per person.

Unfortunately, CASA saw a decrease in a federal grant in the past year,but Smith is optimistic about CASA’s future because of the support of the community and sororities.

“We did receive a 40% grant decrease in funding, but I’m really thankful Encore is happening this year,” Smith said. “Knowing that information and knowing that Encore is going to happen is going to be really beneficial for our program.”

According to Zacks, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in an increasing number of children in the CASA system and the decrease in the federal grant may affect operations.

However, Smith chooses to remain hopeful due to the immense support CASA is receiving from the sororities and the community.

“When we look at numbers from when we started this program to now, numbers have gone up, but I look at more from an optimistic standpoint,” said Smith. “We are raising abuse and awareness around us and educating the community. More kids are being helped by our services than if they were to be at home being abused and neglected. I just try to focus on the positive side in that we are able to continue to serve 100% of the children in foster care in our area. The more that we can help, the better off the children and our community are.”

For more information on the 2nd Annual CASA Encore event, how to donate or buy tickets, visit olemiss.crowdchange.co/20346.