#GivingTuesday has become a global generosity movement and ITC is joining the power of people and organizations to transform communities. ITC has chosen Michigan CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) as our Giving recipient for 2021 Giving Tuesday and we invite you to support this wonderful non-profit with us by purchasing a gift for your Boater or RVer or yourself from our ITC Manufacturer’s Select® shop. ITC will donate 20% of sales from Tuesday, November 30 to Friday, December 3 in order to help Michigan CASA (www.MichiganCASA.org) help provide CASAs to the over 1300 abused and neglected children in the family court system in Michigan. Below is a letter from the president of Michigan CASA, with a story of how a CASA can change a child’s life path. Michigan CASA is part of the national organization with dedicated state programs, so if you would like to learn more about the organization visit www.nationalcasagal.org.
A letter from Ms. Patty Sabin, President of Michigan CASA:
The holidays are upon us and for many, that means thoughts of family gatherings, tables filled with goodies, mittens and hats, and presents peeking out from under decorated holiday trees. For many, joy and thankfulness abound.
But in my role, I know all too well that this time of the year can bring sadness, stress, and incredible difficulty for many children across our state. The idea of happy family gatherings, food-filled tables, or presents under trees is a distant or forgotten dream – and for some unthinkable.
I want to share with you the turnaround story of Stephanie. As an energetic younger girl who would romp in the yard, her round face was once framed by silky, curled hair.
A neighbor noticed over time that Stephanie’s hair had begun to change. Now seven, she would slowly walk the sidewalk, shoulders hunched, her boots barely lifting from the ground. Her once-vibrant locks now hung in lank, sparse wisps. Concerned, the neighbor called for help and a social worker was dispatched.
And it was a good thing: Under the winter coat, Stephanie was found to be covered in bruises and scars and wouldn’t speak but an occasional whispered word. A doctor found evidence of sexual abuse , malnutrition, untreated bone fractures, and severe developmental delays. Stephanie’s parents claimed to know nothing saying, “she’s clumsy, falls a lot, pulls at her hair.”
While Stephanie’s life was far from right side up, that day – just weeks before Christmas – it was suddenly turned even further upside down when she became a ward of the court and sent to live in a foster home.
Although now living in a stranger’s home, Stephanie did end up receiving a holiday blessing that year. It showed up in the form of Margot, a CASA, or Court Appointed Special Advocate, who dedicated herself to learning more about her young charge and helping the fragile little girl find the very best outcome for a much brighter future.
While Stephanie didn’t have many presents under that foster home tree, she did begin to realize that in Margot, she had gotten a gift: an advocate – someone she could trust, would listen to her, and speak on her behalf. And for Stephanie, that meant the world.
In the ensuing months, Margot learned a lot about Stephanie and her family: her younger brother had also been removed from the home; her “father” was not a biological parent; and Stephanie’s developmental delays had become obvious to teachers a full year prior.
With Margot’s advocacy, a case was brought against the parents with a recommendation that neither Stephanie nor her brother be returned to their mother. The man Stephanie thought was her father was convicted and sent to jail.
Today Stephanie is 10. Because of Margot’s advocacy and research, Stephanie now lives with her Aunt Cee – her biological father’s sister.
At Aunt Cee’s, Stephanie has her own room she got to help decorate. The blond luster of her cascading curly hair has returned. And she’s made a remarkable comeback at school, now working at grade level and exceling in English.
Margot still visits Stephanie and stands in awe of her progress. The softly spoken one-word answers Margot got when they first met have blossomed into vibrant stories Stephanie tells on their visits.
Last Christmas, Stephanie helped decorate the large tree in Cee’s living room. As the days counted down to December 25, Stephanie saw presents peeking out with her name on them. A smile lit up her round face – a reaction she was experiencing more these days.
And just in time for Christmas this year, Stephanie will get another present when her adoption with Aunt Cee becomes official.
CASA’s like Margot make silver linings like this happen. Stephanie still has a long road ahead of her to be sure, but it’s one now paved more brightly.
There are more than 13,000 other children like Stephanie across Michigan who need caring advocates like Margot to help them find healing and recovery. These kids have seen things, heard things, and gone through things most of us can’t even begin to imagine. Many are scarred so deeply we wonder how they possibly could have survived or how they will ever find “normal.”
But I, and hundreds of CASAs across Michigan, are committed to building brighter futures for each of these children.
We will not fail them. And we can never give up.
This season of giving, I’d like to invite you to join me in supporting CASAs across the state and to help recruit more Margots. Will you help brighten the future for children like Stephanie – by making a purchase from one of our dedicated corporate sponsors ITC Incorporated?
Make no mistake: your support will change a child’s life. Thank you!