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072015_CASA_diversityTwelve people recently stood up in a local courtroom to be sworn-in as new volunteers in the Alexandria/Arlington CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) Program. They speak different languages, come from different ethnic communities, and work in very different professions. They are medical professionals, attorneys, human services professionals and government workers. They are highly qualified, motivated, multicultural and multilingual members of our community and – after six weeks of intensive training – they are ready to advocate for abused and neglected children desperately in need of a voice.

They are richly diverse – just like the children they will now speak for in the courtroom.

This diversity is key to appointing the best possible volunteer for each child. Speaking a native language or relating to the immigrant experience or understanding an ethnic community can be invaluable in a CASA volunteer’s work with children and families.

Through recruitment and training, we work to ensure every CASA volunteer is passionate, capable and willing to give of their time and skills. But that is hopefully where the similarities end – the best volunteer base is a diverse volunteer base.

Who do you know who could give a unique voice to a child?

p.s. In Alexandria and Arlington, we have a special need for bilingual Hispanic volunteers, African American volunteers and male volunteers. Our next Volunteer Orientation takes place on July 14th at 12:00 noon. Join us!

We simply can’t say enough about the incredible volunteers at SCAN. Every day, our amazing volunteers are in local courtrooms advocating for children, empowering parents at classes and support groups, and educating our community about why child abuse prevention is so important. They’re helping SCAN’s office run smoothly, attending board meetings, appearing on radio shows, managing our website and making sure our events are successful. And it’s because of those more than 260 people that we were able to change the lives of more than a thousand children and families last year.

Last month we celebrated our volunteers at a recognition party (including a pictionary-down-the-lane type game that had us all laughing…see the last photo below!)

But to be honest–we celebrate our volunteers every day we make a difference at SCAN.

We’d love to celebrate you! Ready to volunteer? Learn more here.

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In our blog post last week we promised to let you know how we’d manage without our amazing volunteer Beth Donnelly (owner of The Regal Fig Food Co. and weekly creator of healthy meals for our Parenting Class families) while she’s out of the country for a couple of weeks. Well, we think this picture is worth a thousand words. Or perhaps worth 24 volunteers:

The generous crew from Virginia Commerce Bank24 VOLUNTEERS in total – came to our ABCs of Parenting Class on Tuesday night ready to do anything they could to help.

The moral of this 2-week story? EVERY person can make an impact. It doesn’t matter if you’re a gourmet chef or a bank employee. A high school student or a retiree. A bilingual child advocate or a yoga instructor. We’ve seen every volunteer (all 200+ over the last year alone) make a real difference for the children, parents and families touched by our programs. They’re all helping us prevent child abuse and neglect in our community.

So when do YOU want to start making a difference?

Welcome to Building Blocks! SCAN has finally dived into the world of blogging, and we’re thrilled to bring you a variety of exciting posts in our kick-off week. Although you’ll be sure to hear a lot about our programs and amazing volunteers, Building Blocks isn’t just a blog about SCAN’s efforts. You can also find the latest info on child abuse prevention and a host of interesting information about parenting from around the web. We also have some great giveaways lined up (hint: they involve coffee!), so be sure to check back often.

Writing your first post for a brand new blog can be a little daunting. First impressions are important, and I’m not sure who would read this blog again if I spent my first post rambling about Virginia state laws or the origin of the pinwheel. So instead of giving you the same information you read about in each SCAN newsletter, I thought I’d put it all out on the table and reveal ten things you didn’t know about SCAN.

Ten Things You Didn’t Know About SCAN…plus one more for good measure!

1. While we at SCAN of Northern Virginia like to think we’re special, we’re not the only SCAN in the country. There are SCAN’s in communities across the U.S., but Greater Richmond SCAN and SCAN of Northern Virginia are the only two organizations using the name in Virginia.

2. More than 65% of parents who participated in our Parent Education Programs in 2010-2011 were foreign-born, Spanish-speaking parents.

Kids relax with some yoga at our ABC's of Parenting Class

3. Think yoga is only for hippies or Hollywood celebrities? Think again. SCAN partners with YoKid…Stretch Your Limits to provide yoga instruction to children of participants in our ABC’s of Parenting Classes.  While parents learn about praise and discipline, their children learn the ins and outs of sun salutations and warrior poses. Check out this video to learn about one child’s positive experience with yoga!

4. Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook in his college dorm room. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniack started Apple in a garage. And our founder Dave Cleary started SCAN in his basement. Many great companies started in humble locations, and SCAN was no exception when Dave founded it in 1988.  Just this year, Dave was named “2011 Champion for Children” by the Center for Alexandria’s Children.

5. 18 CASA volunteers have been advocating for youth through our Alexandria/Arlington CASA program since 2006. That’s five years of service!

6. What do rug showrooms and loveseats have to do with SCAN? Well, we asked ourselves that same question when we  started receiving weekly phone calls from people asking to see our furniture showroom. We thought we were the victims of an elaborate prank calling scheme, but it turns out that we share our name with a now-defunct furniture store in the DC area.

7. Turn your radio dial to 98.7 WMZQ, HOT 99.5 or BIG 100.3 and you might hear the voice of our executive director Sonia Quiñonez. Thanks to our partnership with Clear Channel Communications, you can listen to Parenting Today on major radio stations in the DC area.

8. We’re not big name-droppers at SCAN, but we think it’s pretty great that former NBC4 news anchor Keith Garvin used to be on our board of directors. He has also participated in numerous SCAN events and fundraisers.

We blew out 20 candles at our Toast to Hope birthday celebration!

9. SCAN celebrated its 20th birthday in 2008 with a record-breaking Toast to Hope celebration, along with official recognition from cities and counties honoring our two decades of service.

10. While I don’t like to toot my own horn, ExxonMobil Community Summer Jobs Program (CSJP) interns at SCAN have spearheaded some awesome projects. Our Twitter account, Facebook page, and now our very first blog have all been launched by CSJP interns.

11. Ever wonder what makes SCAN’s website and newsletter so appealing? It might just be our go-to font, Myriad Pro.

Keep checking back throughout the week for a special giveaway, volunteer profile, links to parenting topics, YouTube videos, and updates from our last AIPC meeting!

Have any questions about the ten things you probably didn’t know? Want to share your ideas for Building Blocks? Give us your thoughts in our comments section!

-Jenna Temkin

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SCAN works to build hope for children and families in Northern Virginia. This blog brings child welfare professionals the current trends and valuable resources that will support their work to prevent child abuse and strengthen families in Northern Virginia and beyond.

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