My practicum site was with Chesapeake CASA located in the Chesapeake Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court building at 301 Albemarle Drive, Chesapeake, Virginia 23322.
The city of Chesapeake Department of Human Service (CDHS) is primarily responsible for operating, coordinating, and administering supportive division services for its citizens such as: juvenile services, social services, and community programs. Subsequently the division of Community Programs follows, facilitating supportive programs for individuals and or families in need such as: community corrections, community development, community outreach, community partnerships, community relations, and family/youth development. Successively to, the Community of Youth and Family Development, that works with children, individuals, and families to enforce support and care services. Lastly, a subdivision of this program is the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) diversion program.
The Chesapeake administrator of Community Programs is Mary Riley who oversees the entire (CASA) department. Thereafter is the senior Community Program specialist, Kim Finnerty. Followed by my immediate supervisor, Darnell Gaddis, who is the Community Programs Specialist – Chesapeake CASA Program Director/Coordinator for over 13 years. Finally, there is the CASA volunteer coordinator a grant based position assigned to Heather Oliver who directs CASA volunteers and interns. The Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program overall is a nationwide volunteer program dedicated to advocacy for abused and neglected children involved in the court system. The Chesapeake Court Appointed Special Advocate program (CASA) oversees close to 50 volunteers and their cases. Most of the children served by CASA range from birth to 17 years of age, being allegedly abused or neglected and are involved within a court case. CASA also interacts with parents and families, seeking cooperative alternatives, methods, or plans for the child's/ or children's best interest. CASA volunteers' primary duties are to collect and record monthly reports, collaborate with professionals (guardian ad liem, psychiatrists, doctors, specialists, principals, or etc.), and attend court hearings. CASA volunteers and collaborative professionals are held accountable for the conducted research and recommendations given within the case such as: treatments, services, or service plans assigned.
My position within the CASA department was as an intern. The existence of this position allowed CASA to share work experience to interns who are finishing school and provides students an opportunity to: apply, utilize and obtained resourceful knowledge, acquire skills and ability to coordinate events, engage and network with any source of public relation and word press release etiquette, to encourage and engage individual/s, families, or professionals to join CASA or its events, and market to social and media outlets. My general course of duty was to perform program/clerical duties for CASA Program director, staff, and/or volunteers. My general duties and responsibilities were to: answer phone calls and relay messages to supervising staff, assist with preparation of new case files and inputting them into CASA Manager and Apricot, assist with monthly reports, assist with the compilation and circulation of notification letters for cases, prepare correspondence letter to attorneys, GALS, and/or families, assist with case filing/thinning and copying file paperwork, attend court hearings, and assist with filing CASA volunteer court reports with the clerk of the court, assist with office publications (notices, brochures, newsletters, etc.), and assist as directed with CASA program events and activities.
When I assisted with data entry the following information was required within both CASA Manager and Apricot databases: name of parents and sibling/s or legal guardian, birthdates, attorney, judges, specialist, Guardian ad Liem, case number, whether the case was abuse or neglect. In addition, this data allowed CASA to track the number of new applicants for the month, number of kids served, number of current/new volunteers, number of cases active/closed, number of kids under Victims of Crime Act – VOCA Program, and number of partnership meetings. CASA Manager software was designed to track volunteer training through supervision of CASA cases, and child referrals. In addition, the database produces a wide variety of statistical reports that is used by the agency in order to receive the funding based on every triennial period.
During my coursework, I assisted with implementing a direct marketing plan approach/strategy for CASA Super Run 5K held on June 17, 2017. This year CASA Superhero Run had changed their name to “The Super Run” due to their partnership with Superfly Running Inc. This resulted for CASA to be the primary charity sponsor of the event and Superfly running to be the host of the event. The CASA and Superfly guidelines specifically stated to not change either parties' logos and merge both logos adequately to presume their partnership without changing the integrity of CASA mission to “Be a Hero! Help a cause! Join the Run!” This mutual beneficial partnership allowed both organizations and sponsors in numerous ways. This enabled the event to successfully host over 1,000 participants allowing for a wider scale of promotional exposure and advertisement for our sponsors: Burnell & Parker realtor, bath fitters, Mr. Ellis real estate agency.
The direct marketing plan initiated by addressing previous participants, volunteers, and sponsors via mail or email invitation to once more participate and join our CASA Superhero 5K. The classification of groups differed from school officials to professionals, doctors, military officials, college students, city officials, civilians, and business owners. These targeted segments were encouraged to invite or bring children, family members, friends, or elders as for the event had no age requirement. The disclosed information sent to each group varied from an invitational approach to ultimately trying to obtain an endorsement. The disclosed sponsorship packets were only given to possible sponsors that included the CASA/Super Run flyer, a sponsorship letter, endorsement forum, informational tiers of sponsorship level.
In which I created sponsorship letters in a manner to effectively communicate CASA mission and inform our possible sponsors. Implementing a persuasive approach within the sponsorship packets was critical for our event, because CASA solely relied on charitable proceeds. The approach for our sponsors was more of an empathic standpoint, that included them join CASA mission and help a child through an active approach to support positive changes for the youth of Hampton Roads. While also informing our potential sponsor of the larger scale of promotional exposure and advertisement their business would be exposed to. This allowed the participating individual to have a sense of bringing the Hampton Roads community together while expressing the support and belief that, “every child needs a hero but abused children need a superhero”.
A similar approach was used in our invitational letters whereas the main focus was to enable our possible participants to have a sense of belonging and being a part of a positive change for our Hampton Roads youth. While creating CASA 5K flyer the following guidelines were to: include CASA directory and mission statement (Every child needs a hero, but an abused child needs a Superhero!), incorporate & merge our second parties' logo (Super Run), date and location of the event (June 17,2017; Virginia Beach Sportsplex), check-in time and starting-time, 5K Runners receives (superhero capes, race medal, and after race refreshments), family activities (face painting, vendor visiting table, and live music), and website registration link at the Zimzet webpage. The Zimzet website registration link was set up for early registration to be a cost of $35 before May 17th leading to a price change of $40 the day before of the event.
Also, in order for CASA event to be larger than the previous years I contacted former running participants from the followings forums: Active.com, Tidewater Striders, and Running Etcetera. Previous volunteers and sponsors were also acquired from a list of CASA 5K event in 2016 that had over 500 participants. The information collected and gathered from past supporters was used to create and maintain an active list to inform them via mail or e-mail of the upcoming CASA event. The present list would that was made include the following information if possible: first & last name, address, phone-number, and email. Another outreach strategy was a direct approach for sponsorship opportunities, was to create a present mailing or e-mail list for any potential participants or sponsors. I used social platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Hampton Roads calendar to create a sponsored page event. The Hampton Roads press and Virginia Pilot were also contacted via e-mail in order to encourage the printing and airing of annual Chesapeake Youth Foundation/CASA Superhero 5K.
Overall 150 businesses were contacted in which CASA received hospitable donations such as: 30 movie tickets from Cinema Café, all-season passes from Ocean Breeze, passes to Funny Bone, passes to the Virginia Beach Aquarium, lawn tickets to the Virginia Amphitheater, and target gift cards. Also, I personally took initiative to approach about 20-30 different business after work hours. The locations that I approached were: One–Life, Planet Fitness, YMCA, Tropical Smoothie, Starbucks, Target, Farm Fresh, Checkered flag Toyota, Priority Toyota, Harris Teeter, and Food Lion. Once I approach these establishments I would speak with the individual in charge with a personable manner introducing myself and then began by informing them of our CASA organization. While engaging with the individual in charge I would explain the different tier levels of sponsorship such as: The Supporter $250, Sidekick $500, Sponsor $1,000, Hero Plus $2,500, Superhero $5,000. CASA overall proceeds were roughly about $900 from its registries and sponsors. The following participating sponsors were acquired: Burnell & Parker realtor, bath fitters, Mr. Ellis real estate agency. These sponsors along with the present list created were later sent letters of appreciation for support with CASA. These letters of appreciation created by me, to show appreciation for the charitable proceeds given mail or e-mail.
During the month of April, the Child Abuse Prevention month, Virginia Beach CASA hosted an awareness ceremony named Pinwheels for Prevention dedication ceremony. The blue pinwheel is symbolic for child abuse prevention. I assisted in planting a pinwheel alongside my coworkers and superior within City Hall's garden. The planting of a pinwheel is a reflection of hope, health, and awareness of child abuse within community. During this event, I met several city officials and our mayor Mr. Alan Kransoff.
Another critical event I partook in was our CASA Super Run 5K on June 17th,2017. On that particular I was to arrive at 7:45am to assist in setting up our CASA vendor table and stationary tables for light after race refreshments. Prior the starting of the event I was in charge of approaching and informing the participants about CASA organization. Ultimately presiding these participants towards our CASA vendor table to purchase raffle tickets to win passes or tickets. Theses passes and tickets were obtained as donations from the businesses approached via mail through our sponsorship letters. I was also in charge of taking pictures and video recordings of the event to later be uploaded on CASA Facebook page. Throughout the finale of the course our staff unexpectedly ran out of water to handout, this caused an inconvenience to our runners. In which our staff quickly resolved by approaching a member of the Sportsplex to order over 20 cases of water to be handed out immediately. This was an unforeseen circumstance due to the fact 120 cases of water were ordered for the event, an estimate of 2,880 water bottles. Ultimately our quick response and serviceable manner led our CASA 5K participants to remain calm and enjoy the remainder of the event.
During my last week within my internship our CASA senior Community specialist Kim Finnerty gave me responsibility to assist another department with minimal supervision, Chesapeake Juvenile Services Administration office with revising, editing, and typing of the PREA policy and procedure manual. In which the PREA manual was completed within a 3-day span necessary for the deadline period of the department's audit. My contribution towards finishing my task in the goal given time for the audit's deadline led for a cordial invitation by Chesapeake Juvenile Service Administrator to join the team. I was more than grateful for the given opportunity but I respectfully responded to just being thankful for being of assistance.
Primarily my first week interning with CASA rose concerns entailing my position as an intern, whether or not the work experience would adhere or correlate to my marketing major. My initial expectations were that I would be sitting in an office all day assisting with clerical work for the majority of the time. Since it is a Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court solely corresponds to juveniles and adult cases involved in disputes that relay to financial/child support, visitation, parentage or custody of a child, and charges/offenses against involved family members, and foster care. In which this led me to contemplate my learning experience towards my future career in becoming a professional marketing business woman. On the contrary during my first week interning in the month of March, my immediate supervisor Darnell Gaddis entitled me with the responsibility to facilitate all aspects of CASA 5K event with moderate supervision. I was told to address previous and potentially new participants, sponsors, and volunteers for our event. In addition, I was to create active event links in any social platform and update any information upon request.
In retrospect, this employment experience has allowed me to effectively communicate, influence, interact with all types of individuals, professionals, co-workers, and occasional vendors. This has also allowed me with the opportunity to promote our CASA organizations to multiple businesses. Throughout the nature of my internship experience has been to work independently through given instructions and guidelines as directed by my superior. This venture has allowed me to learn how to effectively socialize, build solid and long-lasting relationships. I have built relationships with my CASA superiors Darnell Gaddis, Kim Finnerty, Heather Oliver, and judge Banks whom all have welcomed to come visit them soon. The CASA team has invited me to assist them with coordinating near future events. My overall experience with Chesapeake CASA has been gratifying, more than what I anticipated and imagined. This is an experience I would urge any marketing intern and be a part of. Being a major asset to my CASA team and successfully accomplishing an event with over 1,000 participants has been remarkable. Seeing everyone come together to support the community and its changes for the youth of Hampton Roads was miraculous to witness and be a part of. The support carried out by families, friends, kids, senior citizens, and those physically impaired through their superhero costumes was a life experience This experience has enabled me to become a multifaceted individual to any given opportunity at hand. It has also given me the skills to adhere to adversity well, work independently, and given me the confidence to effectively network outside my comfort zone.
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