Community Action for Safe Alternatives (CASA), has been a fixture in town for more than 20 years, and while it has helped thousands of residents, it is now time for CASA to ask for help.
CASA is facing the end of a $125,000, 10-year grant on Sept. 30, and the agency needs to find another funding source to continue to carry on its mission.
CASA was founded in May 1997 by a group of concerned parents who saw a need to work to reduce drug use among their children’s peer group.
“We have launched a fundraising campaign,” said Amy Epstein, executive director.
CASA’s mission statement is straightforward: “CASA strives to improve the quality of life for all Winthrop residents and provide a safer community for children and youth by identifying and providing prevention resources. We will educate families and individuals about the effects of substance abuse as a complex issue and assist them in creating healthier environments by recognizing and utilizing our community’s many strengths and assets.”
CASA is the leader for the Prevention Needs Assessment, a survey given to students about life in Winthrop and what young people think.
CASA’s Youth Advisory Board has been a vital part of CASA and has made a video to help in the appeal for funding and urge people to visit #saveCASA.
To be sure, Epstein said, “CASA isn’t going anywhere. The board is committed to sustaining youth programs.”
Youth services, the Diversion Program with Winthrop Police, the Advisory Board, the Q Club for LGBTQ youth, and the Winthrop Youth Providers Network (the Parks and Recreation Department, 21st Century Afterschool, For Kids Only and the Winthrop Public Library teen programs.)
“CASA plays an important role in the community between the police and fire departments,” Epstein said, adding that they will be soon working on Wellness Week and the All Night Party.
“Our only goal is prevention, that’s a huge piece,” said LeighAnn Eruzione, Community Liaison for CASA.
For the town of Winthrop, CASA provides data collection and analysis, education, promotion of healthy communities, the Community Diversion and Intervention Program with the Winthrop Police, regional collaboration, and open recreation nights for youth.
As a prevention coalition, Winthrop’s CASA seeks to foster a community environment in which youth and families make healthy decisions. Also, as a coalition CASA was hoping to be picked up by a healthcare provider, but Epstein said she doesn’t think that will happen.
“Many coalitions get picked up by hospitals,” Epstein said. “We hoped to work more collaboratively with folks like East Boston Neighborhood Health Center. It is unfortunate, but Winthrop is hard to get funding for.”
CASA has reached out to various foundations and now is looking toward individual donors.
To check out CASA’s website go to winthropcasa.org. CASA can also be seen on Razoo.com under community action for safe alternatives. People can also mail donations to CASA at 45 Pauline St., Room 2A, Winthrop, MA 02152.
“I think Winthrop is a special town that sees concern for its neighbors,” Epstein said. “We have a goal of $50,000 set to achieve by June.”