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Court Appointed Special Advocates to swear in second class of volunteers

Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Merced County said that on Thursday, the second class of volunteers — 14 in all — will be sworn in as recognized child advocates for the organization.

The event will take place at the Merced County Superior Court, with a reception following at the organization's new office at 2824 Park Avenue in Merced.

CASA is a national nonprofit organization that assists abused and neglected children. CASA volunteers are appointed by a judge to ensure children have an advocate in the court system and to help make sure they are placed in a safe home with an appropriate family. Merced County’s local CASA program began less than a year ago.

Becoming an advocate requires 40 hours of training. The first class of Merced advocates included nine volunteers. Among them is retired undersheriff and current City Councilman Bill Blake.

On Aug. 4, the second class of 14 volunteers will be sworn in as advocates by Merced County Judge John Kirihara. That class includes community members from all walks of life, including former County Supervisor Mike Nelson.

"These are exciting times for those of us involved with CASA," Board President Nancy Young-Bergman said in a news release. "The desire of our community to assist our foster youth is continuing to materialize."

Since last fall, Merced CountyCASA has had its office in space provided by Merced County Times Publisher John Derby. Grey Roberts, CPA, recently helped the group in being able to afford its own office space at 2824 Park Avenue.

"We continue to be amazed at the support our organization has received," said Shar Herrera, executive director of MercedCounty CASA. "Every bit of it helps, and our volunteers are without doubt making a very positive difference in the lives of our children every day."