by Martha Smith
Kelly Klein, Executive Director for CASA of North Sand Mountain, the organization responsible for training Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Volunteers, posted a candid video on Facebook, detailing just one house visit out of many, in which she describes harrowing conditions for two small children.
Klein has a 50-minute drive to and from work, and she uses this time to answer phone calls or reflect on the day. “I’ve not seen anything quite like it. The children were living in a home where there were holes that I could see through to the outside. There was no running water to the home. They had gallon jugs they were using for water, and the water came from a hose that was running from a neighbor’s house. There was a toddler bed that was next to a hot water heater in the closet. There was so much mold on the wall, on the hot water heater and on that baby’s mattress that I can’t even describe to you the smell and what it looked like. And this little guy lived there, in that filth. This little guy was less than two years old, and his sister was less than three months old, and they lived in this. And there was this smell. I found out later it was meth. It’s a smell you’ll never forget. The babies I visited in this home, they weren’t abused, but neglect was huge. You have to have water to your home, and you have to keep your power on.” Klein then told about opening the refrigerator and finding a baby’s bottle of formula that was caked in dried maggots.
“I think about that last home visit, think about the conditions, think about the children that we’re serving – or not serving – its almost overwhelming. People ask me how I do it, and I go to bed every night knowing I did the very best I could do for those kids, and that’s my answer. But the truth is, we’re not doing enough. We need a lot of volunteers. There are all these kids that don’t have a voice in court. Cia and I are doing what we can, but we’re not gaining volunteers as fast as we’re gaining cases.”
Cia Dempsey is the Advocate Coordinator for CASA of North Sand Mountain, and she stated. “I had a little girl tell me she has friends now at school because she doesn’t stink anymore. I’ve had a five-year old tell me she and her brother would hide their mother’s needles and meth pipes, so she wouldn’t use anymore. Our hearts have been so heavy lately, and it’s too much to bear most days, at what we see. But when you get to see the difference that you are able to make by being a voice for these kids it’s worth everything.”
Klein continued, “We are a non-profit organization. We can only serve as many children as we have volunteers. We are appointed to advocate and give a voice to children that come from abuse, neglect or abandonment. We need awareness, and we need funding. It costs about $1,200 to recruit and train a new volunteer for each child. We need help. These kids are in your area. These two children, they live in Jackson County Alabama. Can you help me? Can any of you help me, because I don’t know what else to do. CASA of North Sand Mountain needs you. The children in Jackson and DeKalb County need your help. You’re going to go into these houses, and you’re going to figure out what these kids need, and you’re going to help make it happen.”
If you’d like more information, contact CASA of North Sand Mountain on their Facebook. While there, click on their volunteer application and get started today. The offices are located at 304 South Market Street, Suite 200 in downtown Scottsboro. CASA of NSM is a 501 (c)(3) organization, and all donations received are tax-deductible.