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August 2015

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Welcome to the August 2015 issue of the CASA Connection!
Join our email list and be among the first to see all the stories, news
and thrift shoppe sales!

In this issue:

  - CASA's $1 Million "Match" Donation
  - A Creative Collaboration: CASA & Creative Clay
  - Men & Domestic Violence: What Can We Do To Help?
  - Back To School With CASA's Kids
  - A Thrift Shoppe Upcycle
  - Upcoming Events
  - Donor Spotlight
  - Volunteer Spotlight

CASA's $1 Million "Match" Donation

Many organizations face a drop in new donations immediately after construction of a new facility. But behind the fresh paint and energized volunteers are a mortgage and operating expenses that have grown to match the organization’s expanded services.

One local philanthropic organization is making sure this will not be the case for CASA, which recently opened the doors at its new 100-bed domestic violence center in Pinellas County.

How? With a $1 million dollar challenge.

On July 9th, 2015, the Sonia Raymund Foundation announced that it will match new donations to CASA’s capital campaign, dollar for dollar.

“I know that not everyone can write a check for a million dollars. I happen to be one of the lucky ones,” said Sonia Raymund, Foundation Director. “But CASA needs the money. I ask you to give, and give big, because I am prepared to write a check for up to a million dollars.”

While CASA’s previous 30-bed shelter was a source of refuge for countless families, lack of space and resources had forced them to turn away 1,400 survivors of domestic violence each year. This was a statistic CASA and its supporters could not carry on their consciences. Through grants, donations and a bank loan, a new $12 million dollar facility with $2.5 million in expected annual operating costs was able to be constructed. Its doors officially opened this month, effectively tripling its capacity to provide emergency housing and services to survivors of domestic violence.

With the newly announced donation matching program, CASA is within reach of completely paying off its remaining construction costs, potentially saving millions of dollars in interest payments over the life of the mortgage.

All donations to CASA’s shelter will be doubled automatically under the new program, until the $1 million matching fund is depleted. Please donate online at www.casa-stpete.org/shelter, by phone at (727) 895-4912, or by sending a check with “Shelter” written in the memo line to P.O. Box 414, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. People seeking information on available naming opportunities are encouraged to contact John Biesinger at jbiesinger@casa-stpete.org or (727) 895-4912 x105.

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A Creative Collaboration: CASA & Creative Clay

For almost ten years, CASA and Creative Clay have enjoyed a partnership that has inspired art education programs at our Youth Center, collaboration on an application for state funding specifically for local projects, and multiple fundraising endeavors in the St. Petersburg area. As both CASA and Creative Clay serve marginalized, at-risk populations, the need for one another in this community goes far beyond a simple partnership – it has shown us that by helping each other, we are helping the people we serve so much more.

Creative Clay, a studio and art gallery located on Central Avenue in St. Petersburg, offers educational, expressive and vocational opportunities in the arts for people with obstacles to arts access. Since 1995, Creative Clay has served people with developmental, physical and emotional disabilities, as well as people in healthcare settings, children, and veterans. Creative Clay also provides art outreach experiences in the community. Our relationship began during one of these outreach projects.

In 2006 and 2007, over 30 children who attended programs at CASA’s Youth Center, engaged in weekly group sessions creating individual wooden sculpture portraits, free form clay classes and a large portrait mural.  The mural continues to be displayed at our annual meetings and in our large conference room as centerpiece for education and discussion.

Since then, we have collaborated with Creative Clay in two Give Day Tampa Bay events, an annual 24-hour fundraiser for non-profits in the area, doubling our reach to future supporters.

“With events like these, where we are essentially competing against other nonprofits in the area to raise the most money, we strengthen by partnering with CASA,” said Kim Dorhman, Executive Director of Creative Clay. “By collaboration we are able to reach people we would not otherwise reach – meet supporters and double our exposure.”

In the beginning of 2015, CASA and Creative Clay were awarded a grant that was partially funded by the State of Florida, allowing us both to enter a unique partnership in honor of Martin Luther King Junior’s Day of Peace. The “Art for Peace” project was a collaboration of two unique populations, CASA program participants and Creative Clay artists, where project participants created 30 paintings reflecting the theme of the Day of Service as a tribute to Dr. MLK Jr. Half of the paintings were started by Creative Clay artists, half by CASA participants, then swapped several times. The final pieces were displayed from January 19th until April 8th, and currently hang on the walls of our New Shelter to be enjoyed by survivors for years to come.

This summer, Creative Clay awarded one of its 32 scholarships to a young girl living in our Gateway Housing Program, offering her chance at participating in a unique summer camp experience. The Creative Clay “Art Around The World” inclusionary summer camp, for children ages six through 12 of all abilities, included eight weeks of classes taught by professional artist, Gordon Bonnett, with themes focused around countries such as China, Peru, Ghana and Romania.

“The Art Around The World summer camp offers a cultural experience that a marginalized individual may not otherwise have,” said Dorhman. “Plus, it allows the participants to see that we are all human, that we can all be different but still all be the same.”

This scholarship award was exceptionally wonderful for the young CASA participant, as she comes from a family with siblings, and it was an opportunity for her to do something on her own -- an opportunity for her to shine away from her brothers and sisters.

“She not only loved the summer camp, but she excelled at making the artwork, and really began to realize that she had an interest in continuing this hobby,” said Sue Nichols, Grants and Compliance Coordinator at CASA. “The value in the partnership between CASA and Creative Clay continues to grow stronger because of the successes like these.”

So, you’re probably wondering what we’re up to now? This partnership is nowhere close to being over!

Currently, we are partnering in a fundraising effort that involves one-of-a-kind hand painted tiles created by Creative Clay artists. These tiles, which will be hung in our new 100-bed Shelter, are intended to show support from our community in the form of unique and colorful artwork, while bringing joy to those surrounded by the pieces. For more information on this project, please visit our website!

In addition, CASA and Creative Clay are discussing bringing in professional teachers and Creative Clay artists acting as assistant teachers, into the Shelter to offer classes for adults and their children. The idea of using art as a form of therapy – as a way to cope with stress or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder - is one that is at the foundation of this collaboration. For 2016, CASA and Creative Clay are gearing up for another Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Peace project, with Kim Dorhman and Sue Nichols working very closely to apply for additional state funding for local projects, allowing us to develop unique art projects for the special day.

Though the individuals both CASA and Creative Clay serve everyday have truly benefited most from this partnership, there are so many opportunities that have surfaced because of the collaboration and mutual support. For instance, Creative Clay has obtained a pro-bono marketing deal through a connection made at the MLK Day of Peace event, while CASA has received countless pieces of artwork for our Shelter, activities for our kids at the Youth Center and even strengthened our relationship with the White Family Foundation, whom helped fund a portion of our New Shelter.

So, from all of us at CASA, we want to say Thank You, Creative Clay, and we can’t wait to continue working with your wonderful organization for years to come!

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Men & Domestic Violence: What Can We Do To Help

While the majority of domestic violence survivors are women, violence against men happens more often than expected. A statistic, by the National Domestic Violence Hotline, that we often use to put the frequency of domestic violence into perspective is that of the “one-in-four” – 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. But, there is another statistic that we often do not hear; 1 in 7 men in the United States will experience severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.

According to the State of Florida Department of Children and Families Domestic Violence Annual Report for 2010 through 2011, 3,108 of the individuals served in our state (non-residential) were males, while 32,793 were females. When we see these statistics, it becomes clear why there may not be as many resources available to men, as there are to women – there are just far less men reporting abuse.

A reason for this could be the age-old perception that men are often physically stronger than women, and therefore, more capable of subduing them when violent situations arise. As we all know, this is not always true.  For those that do come forward regarding the violence and abuse, the likelihood that they will be ridiculed by law enforcement or their community is much greater, as they are facing the stigma that men should be “macho” and because they are victims, they are somehow less of a man. With this ridicule and pressure, it is no wonder men often remain silent.

Most recently, however, the advocates in our Outreach Department have noticed an influx in men reaching out for shelter and/or services over the past several weeks.   They saw this same pattern last year, and the year before -- all during the month of July.   What was it about this time of year that caused more male individuals to step forward and ask for help?  What were we doing at CASA to encourage this increase in men reaching out?

Every June, CASA marches in the St. Petersburg Pride Parade, the largest Pride Parade in the State of Florida. Thousands attend, and thousands see us marching in the parade with our signs and handing out our palm cards, and our van, decorated in lights, has our phone number painted on all sides. Could it be that because we are so visible during this time, so visible to so many people, that those, whom we would not typically reach, discover who we are and are more encouraged to give us a call for help?

With so few resources in our community and here at CASA for men who experience domestic violence, we are constantly thinking of ways that we can accommodate all of those who are survivors, no matter their sex or gender. Making ourselves more visible in our community all year long is the first step in being able to provide these very necessary services to our male survivors.

So we ask you, what can we do to make sure that victims know we are here to help them? How can we stay visible long after the parade ends and everyone goes home?

Please send your thoughts, ideas and suggestions to newsletter@casa-stpete.org

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Back To School With CASA's Kids

It’s that time of year again…the school buses are back on the roads, the pencil boxes full of brand new pencils and the school clothes stain-free (but probably not for long). The kids are going back to school! This time of year is exciting - a new school for some, a new teacher for most - but for the majority of the children at CASA’s Shelter, it can be a time of uncertainty.

When a mother flees her abuser, she often leaves her home with the bare essentials. Clothing and important documents for her and her children are really the only items in her bag, leaving no room for her children’s school uniform, backpack or school supplies. When she finally does arrive safely at our shelter, she has minimal income, leaving very little left after food and other living expenses. Essentially, backpacks and school supplies can be last on the list when all she is trying to do is survivor.

Every year, CASA receives donations and support from the community with individuals and corporations banning together to hold donation drives in order to send CASA kids back to school prepared. In 2014, we received over 150 backpacks filled with school supplies, and throughout the year we distributed those to children living at the CASA Shelter, in our Transitional Housing Apartments, and to children of mothers receiving our services within our Outreach Department.

Since opening our new 100-bed Shelter in July, we have tripled in size and are helping more survivors of domestic violence. Due to this increase, we are anticipating a need for more backpacks and school supplies than ever before.

This is where we need your help!

To help send CASA’s kids back to school prepared, we are graciously accepting donations of:

For more information on how you or your company can help CASA’s kids go back to school prepared, and keep them prepared throughout the school year, please call Katherine Lenel at (727) 895-4912 x101, or send her an email at klenel@casa-stpete.org.

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A Thrift Shoppe Upcycle

Upcycle: to reuse in such a way as to create a product of a higher quality or value than the original.

When Dorrie, a longtime CASA Thrift Shoppe volunteer, found the 1880's East Lake, burled walnut sewing cabinet, she knew she found a gem. 

"I paid $75.00, because we [Dorrie and her husband, Ted] weren't sure what it really was until we got it home and checked it out with our resources," Dorrie said. “We used to handle antiques and do real estate sales, so we knew it was definitely East Lake and would match our East Lake bedroom furniture we have now.”

After bringing it home, Ted inspected the item carefully for any damage that needed to be fixed, and stabilized the wobbly sewing cabinet by regluing all of the joints.  Next, the cabinet was cleaned and carefully sanded, followed by another cleaning, to remove any dirt and grime. The last step involved using a Swedish tung oil on the entire cabinet, to save the patina, in order to keep the antique value.

Now, the sewing boutique is appraised at $275, and already, it has become a family heirloom.

“It is very unique and we love it,” Dorrie said.  “Both of our granddaughters have asked to put their name on it. I told them they come after their mother -- she has first dibs on it.”

Donate to
CASA Collections Thrift Shoppe!

To schedule a pick-up service to your home please call (727) 828-1233. For more information about the CASA Collections Thrift Shoppe and upcoming sales and events, visit our Facebook Page.

Upcoming Thrift Shoppe Specials:

  Monday, August 10
  75% Off Blue Tag Clothes
  50% Off Grey Tag Clothes

  Friday, August 14
  50% Off Lamps and Pictures

To stay up to date on upcoming sales and promotions, subscribe to the Thrift Shoppe email list by clicking here.

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Events Calendar

August 11, 2015 - 9:00am to 1:00pm
Clothing Swap at Gulfport Tuesday Fresh Market
Location: 2908 Beach Blvd S, Gulfport

Gulfport’s weekly market holds a clothing swap the second Tuesday of every month. Cash donations and all garments remaining at the end of the swap are donated to CASA. Visit http://gulfportma.com/gma-events/clothing-swap for more information.

August 29, 2015 - 6:00pm to 11:00pm
The 7th Annual Gecko Ball
Location: Gulfport Casino Ballroom, 5500Shore Blvd S, Gulfport

The Gecko Ball features live and silent auctions, delicious food, live music, a costume parade and the Gecko Queen Coronation. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to CASA. Visit www. GeckoFest.com for more information.

SAVE THE DATE for the 2015 Peace Breakfast!
Thursday, December 10th
Contact info@casa-stpete.org for more information.

Click here for info on holding a third-party event for CASA.

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Donor Spotlight: Sonia Raymund

We are so proud to have such an amazing supporter and friend to CASA.  As our Capital Campaign draws to a close, we were fortunate to be the recipient of a $1 million match from the Sonia Raymund Foundation.  This match will help CASA bring in the final $2 million need to end a $12 million campaign that has taken over 3 years.

More than two decades ago, Linda brought Sonia to the old shelter and told her about the amazing life- saving work we were doing each day.  Sonia was in awe, and ready to commit to our mission.  She knew that even though she had not experienced domestic violence first hand, she had to do something for women that had.

On July 9th, Sonia emotionally announced that she would challenge the community to match a donation from her foundation, dollar for dollar. Her ultimate goal was to ensure that the new facility’s name reflected the amazing work of former Executive Director, Linda Osmundson.  The new building has been named “La CASA de Linda Osmundson.” 

To donate to the Capital Campaign match, click here.  For more information, please contact Tuesdi Dyer at (727) 895-4912, ext. 114.

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Volunteer Spotlight: HSN!

Volunteer groups from HSN spent four days in July with CASA helping to get our new shelter ready for our residents. They made welcome packages, set up bedding, stocked shelves, set up the youth room, and set up the kitchens and bathrooms to help make CASA's new residents feel at home! 

Visit our website for more information on Workgroup Opportunities.

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