Dear Friends of Bergen County CASA,
I am thrilled to share the remarkable progress we’ve made this year in continuing to ensure (since the onset of the pandemic in 2020) that EVERY eligible foster child has a dedicated Advocate! So far this year our Advocates have supported 120 foster children. In addition, we trained 24 new Advocates. Collectively, our Advocates donated over 5,525 hours on behalf of Bergen County’s foster children.
Bergen CASA has also pursued a variety of initiatives with the tremendous outpouring of support from you – our friends and donors – and from collaborations with other organizations in this community:
Summer Activity drive –raised funds so that all our foster children could be enrolled in summer camps, swim lessons, and art, music or dance classes Summer Backpack drive –collected school supplies and backpacks from organizations and donors (especially the North Jersey Jewish Federation) so we were able to give all our foster children stuffed backpacks, as well as provide over 200 fully stocked backpacks for children under the care and supervision of the Division, (arguably the neediest families in this county)
Embracing Independence Day – Teaming up with the American Dream, Family Court (CIC), and the Division of Child Protection and Permanency, we’ve crafted an empowering event to guide foster teens through their critical transition out of the system. Our collective effort aimed to empower Bergen County’s foster teens by providing essential insights into finances and mental health. Additionally, we facilitated connections with over 50 diverse service providers, ranging from internship opportunities to educational institutions. The 20 teens who actively participated in the event received special passes generously provided by the American Dream, granting them access to the Nickelodeon theme park, as a well-deserved reward for their engagement. Together, we fostered a supportive environment and paved the way for a brighter future for these young individuals.
Cooking classes for teens transitioning from the foster care system. We crafted a series of cooking classes to empower our foster teens with fundamental culinary skills and familiarize them with the workings of a kitchen. These classes not only provided valuable culinary skills but also served as a platform for foster teens to socialize and bond. A special thank you to Eastwick College in Hackensack for generously hosting these classes, creating a warm and inviting atmosphere for our teens.
Adoption day to celebrate the creation of new families. This event is held on national Adoption Day (November 17 th) and was in-person this year for the first time since the pandemic. We were overjoyed as five families joined us for a celebration breakfast, complete with balloons, treats, and craft activities while awaiting the legal finalization of their adoptions.
Winter toy drive –I extend my heartfelt gratitude to the numerous organizations, doctor’s offices, businesses, and private individuals who generously collect items from our wish lists. Your efforts guarantee that both our deserving foster children and numerous children under the care and supervision of the division receive gifts that genuinely fulfill their holiday wishes. Thank you for making their wishes come true!
And so many more initiatives! Examples include, but not limited to:
- Bergenfield High School filled over 50 shoe boxes with toys, and caring cards and craft kits for our children
- North Jersey Jewish Federation held a mitzvah day and made beautiful friendship bracelets and packed up hats, gloves and scarfs for our foster children
- Sari Gross from the non for profit Flames of Giving has supported us with massive donations of diapers, formula, wipes and other essential baby supplies as well as countless gift cards for our families in critical need
- Amie Schulman, one of our new advocates organized a massive gift card drive for our teens for the holidays
- Town of Ridgewood– Through advocate-extraordinaire Kathy Krassner’s ingenious networking efforts, the entire community of Ridgewood, including the dedicated Ridgewood Women’s Club that hosted a benefit fashion show for our cause, as well as the Girl Scouts and various institutions, has consistently stepped up to support our families in need, often on very short notice.
As we reflect on the strides made this year, Bergen CASA stands stronger than ever, thanks to our dedicated Board of 11 Trustees. Their unwavering commitment and diligent administrative work, coupled with the support of our community, allowed us to successfully organize two major fundraising events—our Casino Night and Fore the Kids Golf Outing. This is a remarkable achievement for a program of our size, with just 5 full-time and 1 part-time employee.
In addition to these accomplishments, we’re excited to share that we’ve secured grant funding for a mentoring program, Fostering Futures, from National CASA. Set to launch in the New Year under the guidance of our teen expert, Malika Zlatkin, this program aims to improve outcomes for teens aging out of the system between 18 and 21 years old.
My heartfelt thank you goes out to Kundert Volvo, especially Bill Kundert, for their exceptional support. Their generous donation of $50,000 over the past two years has been invaluable support to our program.
I want to express my gratitude to all our friends and donors who enable us to focus on each of our foster children on a case-by-case basis, ensuring their individual needs are met. Whether it’s providing a laptop for a teen heading to college, supporting a dedicated mom in completing a training program to secure a decent wage for her family, or covering the costs of HSE exams for a teen to be eligible for trade school, your contributions make a meaningful impact.
As we approach the holidays, I want to express my gratitude to all of you, and wish you a very happy holiday. Please keep
an eye out for our Winter Holiday drive card and consider Bergen County CASA in your end of the year donations.