Just a couple of months ago Misty Kelsey was sworn in a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) in Daviess County. Little did she know how volunteering with CASA would open her eyes to the needs of the children in the court systems in Daviess and the surrounding counties.
“A friend of mine, Amber Cates, became a foster parent several months ago,” said Kelsey. “She really encouraged me to become a CASA volunteer.”
Shortly after she became a CASA, Kelsey said she began receiving emails from other CASAs as well as from the Department of Child Services. “It was just a list of children’s ages, sizes and needs,” said Kelsey. “When you get an email like that about a child in your own community, you move pretty fast.”
Cates and her husband received their foster license last year and it wasn’t long until the couple were placed with their first foster child, a newborn.
”We had absolutely nothing for a newborn,” said Cates. “We made a few calls and then made a mad dash to Walmart to buy the necessities. Three hours and a lot of help later, we were holding this precious baby in a fully-stocked nursery.”
The need for items for a child of any age on the spot was one of the driving forces behind the creating a organization that could help supply children with items they needed on the spot. Cates, Kelsey and their friend Natalee Woodward joined forces to create “Gabriel’s Mark,” an organization that collects both gently used and new toys, clothing, and baby items in Greene, Sullivan, Daviess and Martin counties.
While the state pays a per diem to foster families, Kelsey said it isn’t much and large purchases such as car seats and strollers have to be approved. “It just takes time,” she said.