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Tailgate fundraiser for court advocates honors team effort
CASA volunteer Scott Lippman, right, welcomes former foster child Blanca Sanchez Whidby to the stage Friday at the group’s fundraiser, CASAblanca. Whidby had 24 different placements before being adopted. - photo by Nick Watson

As part of his Court-Appointed Special Advocate training, Scott Lippman scribbled some of the things he cared about on index cards. He picked his family, date and a movie with his wife, chocolate and his dogs, to name a few.

Minutes later, the instructor shredded the cards.

“This is what it’s like to be removed from your family. Everything you know and everything that’s important to you is shredded into pieces,” Lippman said.

Lippman and others shared personal stories Friday during the Hall-Dawson CASA annual fundraiser, CASAblanca, at the Chattahoochee Country Club in Gainesville, which had a tailgate theme.

Lippman told the audience of Blanca Sanchez Whidby, who was assisted by Lippman and went through 24 different placements before adoption.

“Blanca crossed the goal line, not for six points but for a permanent home,” Lippman said. “While we celebrate her win, it took a team to help make that happen. We can’t personally thank all the players on Team Blanca, but you know who you are and your efforts made a difference in this world.”

There are 91 children in Hall and Dawson counties who need a CASA but don't have one.

“(My mom) never gave up on me, and Mr. Scott never gave up on me, either,” Whidby said.

Hall-Dawson CASA Executive Director Janet Walden started her remarks to the audience with a recognition of the volunteers, people “who stand in the gap” and show children they are loved.

“These are the members of our community working to ensure our most vulnerable children have a safe, loving permanent home where they can thrive,” Walden said, asking judges, attorneys, staff and other stakeholders to stand with the volunteers.

Local foster parent Kate Lovell was awarded the Impact Award.

Citing a statistic of 50 percent of foster parents quitting after one year, Walden said Lovell has created a support system for other parents.

“When a family receives foster children in their home, she organizes a meal train. If there are clothing or furniture needs, she finds what the family needs,” Walden said.

Lovell accepted the award and offered a rap to the tune of “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” theme song, changing the lyrics to rhyme with “foster care.”

The Champion for Children Award was given to Cathy Drerup, the former executive director of Challenged Child and Friends.

“I am enriched to be a part of this community, and there’s a lot of great little kids out there that are doing already and are going to do amazing things because of this community, who will not stand by and sit down but will stand up and always do what is needed,” she said.

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