Fundraiser Aims to Help Foster Children

Article excerpt

CASA Partners will launch its annual fundraising campaign with a screening of the documentary "Nicky's Family."

The movie will be shown at 6 p.m. Monday at the Bing Crosby Theater, 901 W. Sprague Ave. Proceeds will help the organization enrich the lives of neglected and abused children in the foster care system throughout Spokane County.

The film tells the story of Englishman Nicholas Winton, who rescued 669 Jewish Czech and Slovak children just before World War II. His story went untold for 50 years, until his wife found documents and transport plans in the attic.

Mary Ann Murphy, who organized the event, said the documentary is a moving account of the rescue, as well as how thousands of people around the world have since responded to the story with their own acts of philanthropy.

"This guy had to find over 600 foster homes in Britain. He started from the same place we do," Murphy said. "These children needed other families to take care of them because they were in danger. Seeing the need, he just did it. That reminds me of CASA Partners."

CASA Partners began in 1997 when a group of court appointed special advocate volunteers decided area foster children needed some of the simple pleasures of a normal childhood amid difficult and traumatic circumstances.

"We decided that there was more out in the community that needed to be done for children in foster care. ... We do believe all children have the right to a safe and happy life," said President Camilla Tilford, describing how they launched three projects, the Bee Kind Garden, Needs from the Heart and My Bag.

Each summer at the Bee Kind Garden about 40 foster children interact with nature and individual volunteers in a nurturing environment designed to build trust and confidence. While they care for plants and animals and participate in projects, they are loved and nurtured with the one-on-one attention children crave.

Throughout the year, Needs from the Heart funds specific requests for foster children, such as paying for music lessons or purchasing a yearbook.

"The state can't buy things like that, but it can make all the difference in the children's self-esteem," Murphy said. This year the project gave out almost $15,000 to answer the wishes of 146 foster children.

Similarly, the My Bag project sends the message that foster children are valued. It provides a new backpack or duffle bag with age appropriate school supplies, toiletries, blanket and stuffed animal to all area children when they enter foster care. …