Virginia has been an advocate for five months, but considering how much time she has dedicated to her case, it truly feels like much longer. Before assigning Virginia to her current case, we knew we would need an advocate who would be able to dedicate extra time since there was potential that the child would be placed in Amarillo. After explaining this circumstance and concern to Virgina, she accepted without hesitation.

New to case work, we have admired Virginia’s desire to know more; she asks great questions with this goal in mind! Once assigned, she did not hesitate to begin her advocacy work, which included observing 4-6 hour visits every other week for an “intervening party” to the case. She also was sure to visit the children’s placement home to spend time with them, attend court, observe virtual visits, submit her documentation, and so much more.

Virginia has been able to connect with all family members and foster parents, despite them all wanting different outcomes for the case. The time she spends, the way she carefully considers all outcomes, and most importantly how she treats every member involved in this case gains their trust and respect. It is apparent that Virginia has a knack for managing any biases she may have while focusing primarily on the best interest of the children.

We are so fortunate to have Virginia as a member of the CASA family and appreciate all her hard work and dedication.  This is why we are so happy to nominate Virginia as one of our New Advocates of the Year!


Glendora Conant, or Glen as she prefers to be called, has proven to be a faithful and committed advocate over the ten months that she actively served on her first case. She never missed a visit with her little guy, and he always lights up at the sight of her.

While building a connection with the child in her case, Glen also forged a trusting relationship with the child’s family. She met with the biological mother on several occasions to help her explore needed resources, often buying her lunch, and talking over what still needed to be accomplished to achieve success with her family plan of service.

As difficult as a CPS case can be, positive and happy things often emerge, as did for this particular family. The biological father was identified, and because he was a “non-offending parent,” in the case the youngster was placed with him. This sweet child not only gained a father, but biological siblings as well. After placement, Glen began visiting the home, and in true Glen fashion, she quickly became a friend, a support system, and a cheerleader for all of them!

Exhibiting the traits of an ideal advocate, Glen often visited her assigned child more often than minimum standards require. She advocated for the best interests of the child, but she understood the importance of serving the entire family as well. The case recently closed with a visitation plan in place for Mom, who made a point to say how sweet Glen is and to express her appreciation for her.

Advocates like Glen are what make our CASA program outstanding. Because going above and beyond in advocacy is par for the course for Glen; she is quick to shrug off accolades as just “doing her job.” We appreciate her care, concern, and steadfast commitment to her role as a CASA, and we are proud that she is part of our CASA program, and why we are so happy to nominate Glen as one of our New Advocates of the Year!


Stephy Ochoa became an advocate in May 2023 and was immediately assigned to a teen boy who would soon be turning 18. Stephy knew she had a limited amount of time to advocate for him and hoped to use the time she had to make an impact.

In the nine months that Stephy was assigned, this young man was in six different placements. With each move she visited him immediately so that he never worried if she would find him. Additionally, she visited more than once a month and called him several times each month to stay in close contact.

One memorable moment of advocacy for Stephy was when she attended an ARD meeting and explained to school staff how trauma affects a child’s behavior, emotional capacity, and decision making. She encouraged the room of educators to take this into account when interacting with “her child.” After the meeting, at which the teen was present, he stated, “No one has ever stood up for me before.”

Another memorable moment was when Stephy learned that this young man was missing school due to oversleeping. Each day, Stephy set her own alarm extra early so she could call and wake him up! No doubt, her cheerful phone call and words of encouragement were a great way to start the day.

Stephy’s advocacy can easily be summed up by the word “persistence.” To set up her teen for success, Stephy relentlessly researched options for him, such as Job Corps and welding schools. She spent hours on the phone speaking with caseworkers and attorneys. Stephy never allowed them to become complacent. She held them accountable so that this soon-to-be adult young man did not fall through the cracks and become just another statistic. During the life of this case, this teen experienced many tumultuous events, including the death of his only living parent. Fortunately, though, he did not experience this loss alone.

A common phrase heard in this volunteer opportunity is that a CASA is often the only consistent person in a CPS case, and Stephy has certainly been that and more. She has been tenacious, encouraging, and steadfast. She has been a friend, a mentor, and an ally. She has been a Difference Maker.


Renita Henley has a personality the size of Texas…and a heart to match it! She throws her whole self into tasks that she undertakes, bringing passion and energy that is contagious to everyone around.

Renita became an advocate in July 2023 and was assigned to a case with one young child. She quickly familiarized herself with the details of the case and set about communicating with all parties involved. During the first week of advocacy, she contacted the caregiver, visited the child, contacted CPS, contacted the parent, and attended a court hearing. Seven months later, none of that momentum has been lost!

Renita visits her child monthly, and she is always excited when holidays roll around because she has the opportunity to provide a little extra attention and  a little extra spoiling to all the children in the caregiver’s household. We can always count on Renita to take the biggest, jolliest stuffed animal from the CASA toy collection!

In addition to lavishing her little one with attention, Renita makes herself readily available to the child’s mother. She meets with her in person and communicates with her via email, text, and phone calls. Renita has spent a significant amount of time helping mom to locate resources for counseling, housing, employment opportunities, and support groups.

Renita’s activities with CASA are not limited to advocacy. She serves on the San Jacinto County Outreach Committee and readily volunteers to help with other activities like toy pick up and sorting at Christmas, and manning booths at community events. She also regularly attends training courses to continue furthering her education. She loves CASA and passionately supports its mission, and we’re grateful for all that she does!


Laura Bates is one of our newer advocates, having only been appointed to her case since October. However, in this short time she has made a big impact. Laura was assigned to a case in which the previous advocate had to step away for personal reasons. Laura immediately studied the case file and quickly became knowledgeable about the circumstances, both past and present. This allowed for a smooth transition and before long, it felt as though she had been on the case from its inception.

Laura has faced many challenges in this case. The different parties have made some aspects of her required duties difficult to accomplish. While there certainly have been times of frustration, and even despair, Laura presses on. She stays in close contact with her CASA supervisor and the CPS caseworker. She seeks out advice as she talks things through with her supervisor, which gives the CASA staff the opportunity to support and encourage her. This ultimately helps her advocate to the best of her abilities for her assigned child.

As a first case for an advocate, this is admittedly a tough one. CPS cases are always unpredictable, and each one is unique. CASA volunteers must have grit and determination to push through difficult times. They must also be dedicated and invested to continue advocating for the best interests of a child no matter what obstacles they face. Thankfully, Laura Bates has stayed true to the course in seeking out to advocate for the child’s best interest.