Hundreds of people danced, dined and supported local foster kids in a fun-filled afternoon at the Meraux Foundation’s Docville Farm campus on Saturday, March 30.
“Rock the CASA,” an event hosted and sponsored by the Meraux Foundation and numerous other community organizations and businesses, brought together local bands, restaurants, and artists for a family-friendly day of entertainment and fundraising for CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) in St. Bernard Parish.
“CASA does incredibly important work in our parish by supporting children who’ve been removed from their homes due to abuse or neglect,” said Meraux Foundation president Rita Gue. “CASA ensures trained, compassionate adults are there to fight for and protect at-risk children’s right to a safe and secure home environment. We’re incredibly proud to be able to team with others in the community to support and sponsor their efforts.”
Prior to 2016, children in St. Bernard who were removed from their homes and placed into foster care were without advocacy or guidance in the court system. Through an initial grant from the Meraux Foundation, a pilot program was established. In 2017, the CASA program was made a permanent fixture with additional Meraux Foundation grants.
Since then, numerous community volunteers have stepped forward to receive the training necessary to effectively advocate for local foster kids and ensure that the needs of these children are at the forefront of decisions being made by judges, lawyers, and family members.
“When CASA first came to us, there was no question that we would be supporting their efforts,” said Gue. “It’s gratifying to see how far they’ve come in just these past few years.”
In order to ensure the continued presence of CASA advocated in St. Bernard Parish, “Rock the CASA” brought together a wide range of food, entertainment and local artists. Featured bands included Darcy Malone and The Tangle, Da’By-U Blues Band, The New Orleans Johnnys, Adeline Miller and Amis Du Teche, and The Drew Young Band.
The food court featured Dirty Dishes, Unique Eatz by Chef Jon, South In Ya Mouth Food Truck, Teetzy’s Tamales and Catering, Not Cho Average Nachos, and CHEW ROUGE. Arts market vendors included The Cottage Store and Slip Into Clay. Event posters (still available) were designed, hand printed, numbered, and signed by Sabrina Evans Schmidt. “Rock the CASA” also featured a children’s barn, sponsored and run by Dorothy Hills and other volunteers from Chalmette Refinery.
Along with lead sponsor and host, the Meraux Foundation, other major sponsors included Chalmette Refinery, LLC, The New Orleans Advocate, and Baptist Community Ministries.
The event also relied on the generous support of evanschmidt design group, llc, St. Bernard Tourism, Nunez Community College, Brewster’s Restaurant and Lounge, Southern Insurance Agency LLC, Gulf Coast Bank & Trust Co., Parish President Guy McInnis, DA Perry Nicosia, Sherriff James Pohlmann and the St. Bernard Parish Sherriff’s Office, St. Bernard Volunteers for Family and Community, Jennifer Bernard, Callais Ice Service, Pirogue’s Whiskey Bayou, Republic Services, MTech ATM, Clements Insurance Services, and Greaux.
“I’d like to thank all those who came together for ‘Rock the CASA.’ So many gave so much time and effort to make it the great success and fun afternoon that it was,” said Joy Bruce, CASA executive director. “I especially want to thank the great folks at the Meraux Foundation who’ve been so instrumental in helping us get established here in St. Bernard Parish and in continuing to support CASA and the community’s foster children.”
The Meraux Foundation is a private 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that was established by Arlene Meraux to benefit the community of St. Bernard Parish by leveraging its landholdings. In addition to CASA, The Meraux Foundation supports the work of other non-profits through donations and by hosting events at its Docville Farm campus.