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Volunteers spotlight services they provide, need for more

By Trina Trice

For more information about volunteering opportunities in Clayton County, check in future editions of the News Daily.

With more than 650 Clayton County children in foster care, volunteers in the Court Appointed Special Advocates program are sorely needed to provide those children a voice that has been stifled in abusive homes.

Facing a volunteer shortage, the Clayton County CASA program isn't capable of serving half of those in foster care.

The program currently has 70 volunteers.

"Based on the number of volunteers we have, we only are able to serve 136 children," said Gerald Bostock, program coordinator. "Our goal is to have a volunteer for every kid in the system."

Statewide over 1,300 CASA volunteers served over 6,300 children last year.

"As a CASA volunteer, you take a number of roles," Bostock said. "You are a fact-finder for children in need. You are a powerful voice for a child in court. You have the power to provide the link between where a child is and where that child wants to be."

CASA volunteers work with case workers from the Department of Family and Children Services to help place children in the appropriate home environments once the original is disrupted by family problems, such as drug and alcohol, physical, and sexual abuse and neglect.

Another program in desperate need of volunteers is the Clayton County Juvenile Court which is seeking residents to serve on a collaborative committee to review cases prior to preliminary hearings and make recommendations to the judge on alternative strategies to detention in the Regional Youth Detention Center.

"The committee is a collaborative community effort using persons from different disciplines who can bring their perspectives and resources in each case at the front-end, instead of waiting for it to happen at the back-end," said Juvenile Court Judge Steve Teske.

Not all volunteering jobs in the county are as serious as those for at-risk or needy children.

For almost a year, John and Abba Trimble have enjoyed spending their time with other seniors at the Riverdale Senior Center.

Their time isn't just social, though.

The Trimbles, like hundreds of Clayton County residents, are avid volunteers. "We've worked with seniors for a long time at our church," Abba Trimble said. "We decided we wanted to work with more seniors outside of church. It's not a ?got to,' it's a ?get to.'

John Trimble, a retired Delta Airlines employee, and his wife work three days a week in the Riverdale Senior Center's dining room for breakfast. When they're not babysitting their grandchildren, they like to help anyone in need, Trimble said.

"We all have the power to make a difference in Clayton County," Bostock said. "In doing so, we will experience the satisfaction of knowing we've make a lasting impact on our community for many years to come. Consider making a positive impact on a life."

For volunteering opportunities at the following shelters and social service organizations, call the following (some additional training may be required):

Alternative Detention Collaborative, (770) 477-3260.

Rainbow House, (770) 478-6905

Calvary Refuge Center, (404) 361-5309

Court Appointed Special Advocate, (770) 477-3268

Department of Family and Children Services, (770) 473-2300

Clayton County Aging Program/Meals on Wheels, (770) 603-4050

Samaritans Together, (404) 361-8848

Master Gardener's Program at the Extension Service, (770) 473-5450

Southern Crescent Habitat for Humanity, (770) 477-2367

United Way Center, (770) 991-2026