GENEVA – Three siblings had a rough start in life. Their mother was a substance abuser and mentally unstable. Their father was in prison for domestic abuse. They were all under 3 years old and each showed signs of physical abuse. That’s when a special CASA volunteer stepped in and helped change the course of their lives. The children have since been adopted by a loving family and are doing well.
At noon Thursday, more than 100 citizens joined hands for a moment of silence to acknowledge the abused and neglected children in and around the Kane County community. The ninth annual Hands Around the Courthouse event, held in the lobby of Geneva’s Old Courthouse, was organized by CASA – or Court Appointed Special Advocates – of Kane County.
“April is National Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness Month, a time to remember all the children who’ve been victims of neglect or abuse, and for those who may be suffering in silence,” said Gloria Bunce, executive director of CASA Kane County.
Featured at the event was a heart-wrenching display of 90 pairs of shoes, arranged in the shape of a heart, to represent each Illinois child who died last year as the result of abuse or neglect. Working to prevent such tragedies are 250 active local CASA volunteers.
Bunce, who spoke at the event, believes that – when it comes to children – everyone needs to pay attention when something doesn’t feel right.
“If you suspect something is wrong, call and report it. You have nothing to lose, but the child has everything to lose,” she said.
Other speakers included Judy Brawka, chief judge of the 16th Judicial Circuit, Linda Abrahamson, abuse and neglect judge, and Mark Klaisner, assistant superintendent of the Kane County Regional Office of Education, who said, “Our mission is to rescue one child at a time.”
To learn more about CASA Kane County or about becoming a volunteer for the organization, call 630-232-4484 or visit www.casakanecounty.org.