Auction assists local CASA project

Auction assists local CASA project

Local artists helped draw a strong showing of community support Saturday for CASA, a child-advocacy support group that helps abused and neglected children navigate through the court process.

An auction of specially-decorated birdhouses and aprons raised approximately $6,800 to benefit the CASA project for Osage and Pawnee counties.

CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) are citizen volunteers who are recruited and trained to provide one-on-one help for youths who have become involved in the legal system, usually due to family neglect or domestic abuse. The project is administered through the United Community Action Program.

Many of the bird houses and some aprons were painted or designed by prominent local artists who donated their time and energies to assist the group with its efforts.

“We were thrilled by the community’s response to this very worthy cause,” said Helen Norris, project director for the two-county CASA chapter. “I was especially impressed with all the thought and care shown by the artists who created the items.”

In addition to funding, she said the program has a vital need for volunteers to provide one-on-one assistance for the troubled youths as they navigate through a legal system that can be confusing and intimidating, even for adults.

“There are so many needy children out there,” the project director said, “we are always hard-pressed for funding, as well as for volunteer advocates.”

Norris added that the Osage/Pawnee chapter is the only CASA project in the country that operates in two different counties and within two separate tribal jurisdictions — Osage and Pawnee, in both cases.

The late-afternoon auction was held in the parish hall of Pawhuska’s Immaculate Conception Catholic Church. Serving as auctioneer for the local event was Jim Taylor, who was assisted by his wife, Debbie. Total amount raised was approximately $6,800, CASA officials said.

The intricately-designed aprons were new features for the annual auction fundraiser.

CASA officials said the highest-priced birdhouses in the auction were created by Jessica Harjo, Joe Don Brave and Dannette Daniels. The top-selling apron was a design by Ruth Shaw.

Other artists receiving recognition included Wendy Ponca and Anita Fields. The Osage Nation Language Department and local Boy Scouts also were cited for helping to make the event a success.