Rio Grande Valley CASA welcomes new staff, board members, and volunteers
The Rio Grande Valley CASA program, (Court Appointed Special Advocates,) has undergone many changes in the past few months, and we’d love to share them all with the community. The program would first like to welcome and recognize Phyllis Mecca, the programs new Executive Director.
Phyllis has a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice from NMSU which she received in 2010, and she has spent the past decade working for CYFD, DWI, and the Misdemeanor Compliance Program in Sierra County. All of these accomplishments make her a great fit for the director of this non-profit program that trains volunteers to represent children in CYFD custody in the 7th Judicial Court District.
Along with filling the vacant director position, Phyllis and Sierra County Volunteer Coordinator Destiny Mitchell worked together to hire Berta Espinosa-Moore, an additional Volunteer Coordinator for Torrance County, a program who had been without a coordinator since August of 2017. Fearing complete shutdown of CASA services in Torrance, the new team of coordinators along with the director will be working very hard to restore the program that came to an unpredictable halt back in September. Torrance County will be avidly recruiting volunteers in and around the area, as well as for Socorro and Sierra Counties. The RGVCASA board also welcomes Teresa Ragsdale, who has been contracted to do bookkeeping for our program. The final staff member to join our team in October of 2017, Ember Budd, is the new coordinator for Socorro County, and has spent the past 3 months catching up on the enormous caseload that her county is experiencing. Volunteers are severely needed in all three counties, and trainings will be offered in February and March of this year.
The RGVCASA program would also like to introduce three new volunteers to join the ranks of the program in January 2018. Maria Weir, Blair Davidson, and Ariel Davis have all been sworn in by the 7th Judicial District Judges and assigned Sierra County Cases. They have completed nearly 40 hours of training and pre-work and are prepared to tackle these cases and advocate for their assigned children to the best of their abilities. They join current volunteers Tiffany Holmes, Lisa Todd, and Yarrow Dankert, all of whom were sworn in last May. Honorable mentions go out to Shawn Montgomery who volunteered with our program over the past few months and really helped us make it through the holidays. Thanks so much! Welcome to all our new volunteers, and we hope to see you out in the community fulfilling your new volunteer duties. Speical thanks to the 7th Judicial District Court and Honorable Judges Mercedes Murphy, Matthew Reynolds, and Shannon Murdock.
The CASA Board of Directors have also increased in membership. Board President MerryJo Fahl welcomed two new additions to the board recently. Rita Johnston and Dan Morrell will be joining Vice-president Carlos Padilla, Secretary/treasurer Catherine Mackenzie, along with members Susan Lafont and Guy Wimberly. The Board of Directors oversees the financial aspects of the non-profit organization and is in charge of hiring a director for the program. The meet once a month and have done an excellent job to help to revitalize the CASA program.
We have annual fundraisers planned throughout the year where we raise money to support our program. Our next event will be a CASA sponsored Golf Tournament at Sierra del Rio Golf Course in Elephant Butte. The tournament will take place on Saturday, June 2nd, beginning at 8am. CASA is seeking hole sponsorships at $125.00 each, silent auction items, and monetary donations from the community, to support child advocacy in Sierra County. Donations and sponsorships can be mailed to RGVCASA, PO Box 293, TorC, NM 87901, dropped off at 311 Broadway, or picked up by calling Destiny at 575-740-7542. Teams can register at Sierra del Rio Golf Course by calling 744-7100. Two of our ongoing fundraisers are used ink cartridge recycling and collection of Bullock’s receipts. Once again, thank you to everyone in the community for your support of this wonderful and integral program. Even the smallest contributions are appreciated.