Caring for our community
Fairfax Court Appointed Special Advocates
A meeting of minds over helping vulnerable children
Say Cheese: Dan Van Nostrand (foreground) snaps an “ussie” of the MainStreet Bank team that visited Fairfax Court Appointed Special Advocates. From left to right: Debra Cope, Kas Govender, Gisele Foulks, and Gita Dyal. (Photo: Dan Van Nostrand)
Talk about a happy coincidence! Four MainStreet Bank employees in two locations separately came up with the idea of giving their Making Change dollars to the same organization. They teamed up in August 2023 to give $4,000 to Fairfax CASA, which trains volunteers to advocate for children who have experienced abuse or neglect at home.
CASA is short for Court Appointed Special Advocates. Fairfax CASA fights for the right of children to have a safe, loving, and permanent home. Its clients are kids in the foster care system who need someone to speak up for them. The goal is to make sure that their safety and well-being come first as custody is determined in court.
Dan Von Nostrand, Integration Support Manager at Avenu, recently became a dad for the second time, and wanted to put his $1,000 Making Change donation to work for kids. One of his friends is a guardian ad litem—an attorney who is appointed by the judge to represent a child or incapacitated adult in court.
“She said Fairfax CASA would be a great way to help kids,” Dan recalled. Looking into it, he was impressed with the organization and made his decision.
Meanwhile, at Headquarters, three women started discussing how to use their funds. Gisele Foulks, Gita Dyal, and Kas Govender were all drawn to children’s causes and were independently looking into options. Gisele, who is AVP for Sales Finance, had worked for a short time at the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court. So when her research turned up Fairfax CASA, she recognized its important mission. She eagerly shared the idea with Gita, who works in Credit Administration as a Collector, and Kas, who is AVP and Credit Support Officer.
A new cadre of Volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocates is sworn in at Fairfax County Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court. (Photo: Fairfax CASA)
“Their website answered every question, and I just got a warm feeling,” Gisele recounted. “I felt really good about doing this. Children deserve to know what a healthy relationship is.” She said Fairfax CASA has the potential to break the cycle of abuse and neglect for the kids it serves. But it can’t serve everyone. In 2022, Fairfax CASA worked with 213 families and 378 children. It has a waiting list of 57 kids, and it takes $1,800 to provide services to each one. The need for funding is great. As Dan pointed out, the donation from four MainStreet Bank employees will get two kids off the waiting list to be matched with their own CASA volunteer.
“I’m spreading the word and telling everyone they should think about supporting Fairfax CASA,” Dan said.
Kailey Allen, Communications Specialist at Fairfax CASA, said there has been a surge in the number of kids placed in foster care or under a protective court order over the past year. New cases have nearly doubled, so the need for new volunteers is urgent. She said corporate contributions like MainStreet Bank’s help by providing resources to recruit and train new volunteers.
Gathering in the Fairfax CASA conference room last week, the four givers were all smiles. They had all taken time to carefully consider and research the organization they would support—and they were delighted to find that they had all reached the same conclusion.
To learn more about Fairfax CASA visit fairfaxcasa.org