The Red Shoe Gala evolved from 'The Wizard of Oz' and, specifically, the ruby red slippers that helped transport Dorothy back home to the loving arms of her Auntie Em.
The spotlight will be on abused and neglected children, Saturday, Feb. 11, as CASA for Kids Inc. presents its annual Red Shoe Gala at the Marriott MeadowView Conference Resort and Convention Center.
CASA for Kids Inc. stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates for Kids who are placed in the Juvenile Court System through no fault of their own. According to Connie Steere, executive director, CASA works with children who have been the victims of abuse and neglect.
"The CASA volunteer serves as the investigative reporter for the juvenile judge," Steere explained.
CASA volunteers are "sworn" agents of the Justice Department and have the authority to go into the home and view living conditions, speak to school counselors, and obtain medical reports in order to gain a full picture of the life of a child placed in the Juvenile Court System. They serve as advocates for the children by providing a fact-based comprehensive report with recommendations to the judge.
They additionally facilitate the needed services to improve the child’s environment and monitor all court recommendations until the child is placed in a permanent, healthy environment. The goal, whenever possible, is to place the child back into the custody of their parents or relatives because, as Steere pointed out, "There’s No Place Like Home."
The Red Shoe Gala evolved from the theme of Dorothy, from "The Wizard of Oz," who realized "There’s No Place Like Home," and with a click of her Ruby Red slippers was transported back to the loving arms of her Auntie Em. The local CASA borrowed The Red Shoe Gala from the Nashville chapter, and the gala has turned out to be the local CASA’s largest and most successful fundraiser.
One hundred percent of the gala proceeds go back to CASA to facilitate its mission.
"It is a fun evening for everyone but, most importantly, you know at the end of the evening you have helped children who cannot speak for themselves," Steere said.
The black-tie optional event includes dinner and a dance, with music provided by The Extraordinaires, a nine-member North Carolina band. Juvenile judges will preside over three 'Red Shoe' contests which, according to Steere, can also provide some hilarious and outrageous moments.
"One of last year’s winners, a man, wore a pair of red knee-high, Stiletto boots."
Attendees will also have the chance to grab some exquisite items to celebrate Valentine’s Day.
"The event features both a Silent and Live Auction with jewels and trips to delight your valentine," Steere said.
Thanks to the success of last year’s gala and additional funding streams, CASA for Kids Inc. provided services to 602 children. There are currently 98 volunteers assisting the courts in Sullivan and Hawkins County, and Steere said that number should be around 200 to adequately handle the needs of the abused and neglected children in the two-county region.
According to Sullivan County Juvenile Judge Mark Toohey, "CASA is indispensable to my administration of justice to children."
U.S. Justice Department studies have found that if CASA is on a case, the time spent in the system is cut by 50 percent. National statistics additionally reported that 53 percent of neglected/abused children, whose environment is not improved, become juvenile delinquents and 38 percent of those children become adult violent criminals.
"What we do here is extremely important to the children and our community," Steere said. "CASA needs not only more volunteers, but also financial support and The Red Shoe Gala is a great way for the community to help us."
For more information on CASA or to obtain tickets for The Red Shoe Gala, contact CASA at 423-247-1161. Tickets may be purchased online at www.casa4kidsinc.org. Tickets are $125 per person, $60 of which is tax-deductible.