Protecting the vulnerable

Protecting the vulnerable

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When Idelia, a sophomore from California University of Pennsylvania, spoke at the annual golf and tennis fundraising event for CASA of Westmoreland last year, tears flowed in the audience—because they knew just how much work it had taken to get to this moment.

“This young woman was rescued from some very dangerous circumstances,” said Carol Black of Evergreen Insurance, the event co-sponsor and longtime CASA supporter. “Her story was transformed by the existence of this organization.”

Idelia speaks at the CASA Golf and Tennis fundraiser, sponsored by Evergreen Insurance.

Advocates for the abused and neglected

CASA’s purpose is to advocate for children like Idelia who are abused or neglected in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, providing a voice in the courts on their behalf. These court-appointed special advocates (hence the CASA name) help facilitate each child’s well-being  in care, and ultimately, permanent placement in a safe, nurturing home.

“In a perfect world, all children would be nurtured and loved,” said Karen Burns, the organization’s executive director. “Unfortunately, this is decidedly not the experience of all children—here, we have 400+ children in foster care annually.”

Protecting the vulnerable 4
Carol Black (right), Evergreen Insurance spent Friday, August 23, 2019 at the Latrobe Country Club volunteering for the 10th Annual Golf Tournament. The event raised over $60,000 to support the CASA of Westmoreland program.

That’s why CASA recruits, trains, and supervises volunteer advocates who are appointed by courts for foster children with challenging cases. Advocates ensure that all needs are met, court orders for care are executed in a timely manner, independent recommendations for the child’s future interests are presented to the court, and health and development resources are provided.


‘We are honored to help this vibrant program advocate for the most vulnerable members of our society.’

—Carol Black, Evergreen Insurance

Protecting the vulnerable 3
CASA 10th Annual Golf Tournament event co-chairs posing for a quick photo prior to the shot-gun start. These CASA volunteers have been chairing the event since its inception and the event is sold out every year.

11 years, more than $400,000 raised

Evergreen Insurance, located in Westmoreland’s county seat of Greensburg, has been involved with CASA for more than a decade. It all began when agency principal Joe Imler was introduced to the organization by a board member—and became a board member himself. He now serves as a CASA ambassador, and in the 11 years since the relationship began, he has helped raise more than $400,000.

“Our annual golf and tennis even continues to grow,” Black said. “Today, it brings in about 11% of CASA’s net income for the year. We are honored to help this vibrant program advocate for the most vulnerable members of our society.”

Protecting the vulnerable
The CASA of Westmoreland, Inc. team volunteers at the 2020 Golf and Tennis fundraiser for CASA. Left to right: Carol Black, Karen Burns (exec director), Jillian Tocco (communications), Tiffany Johnston (intern), Kelly Jellison (advocate supervisor) Natalie Gordon (advocate experience manager), Melissa Burns(advocate supervisor), David Riehl (board member), Mitch Samick (program director), Carrie Kowalyk (intern) Kelly Rowe (program administrator), Rick Orienza(development director)

Still serving, even during the pandemic

All of the children CASA serves have been removed from their birth homes due to abuse, neglect or abandonment and placed in foster, kinship or congregate care. Even with the impact of the pandemic, the organization expects to serve more than 175 children by year’s end.

Yet right now, Burns worries about the ones who have not yet been removed from their homes. “This time of quarantine is so dangerous for abused and neglected children,” she said. “Fewer caring eyes are upon them.”

A 2020 Make More Happen Award will help CASA add more of those caring eyes throughout Westmoreland County—the honor includes a donation of up to $10,000 from Liberty Mutual and Safeco on behalf of Evergreen Insurance.

“We can’t thank Evergreen enough for what they do to help kids in our community,” Burns said. “Carol recruits new advocates, while both attracting and keeping donors, year after year. Joe’s wisdom helped guide our early years and continues to this day. We are honored to have their support.”


Use the Facebook button on the left to share this story and help CASA of Westmoreland. If their story is shared 500 times, CASA will receive a $10,000 donation from Liberty Mutual and Safeco on behalf of Evergreen Insurance.

Learn about these Make More Happen Award winners here:

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Cindy Dunnington
3 years ago

Thank you for being a community partner with my sister CASA in PA. I hale from Rio Rancho NM, CASA Partners 4NMKIDS.

Carol Black
3 years ago

So proud to be a part of this group and their dedication to the children of our community.

3 years ago

Congratulations to a truly deserving cause.

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