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Rich takes the helm of CASA program at DCFRC

The Dallas County Family Resource Center (DCFRC), from its downtown perch on the corner of Church Street and Alabama Avenue, tackles a bevy of issues for some of Dallas County’s most needy residents – integral to that effort is the center’s Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program, which relies on volunteers to advocate for abused or neglected children in local courts.

As such, the recruitment of volunteers is essential to the program and the DCFRC has a new face leading that charge – Noelle Rich was recently named the DCFRC’s Volunteer Coordinator for its CASA program.

According to DCFRC Executive Director James Thomas, Rich will be tasked with recruiting and training volunteers to go into homes where children have been indicated in abuse cases to evaluate and “provide valuable intelligence” to local judges in making decision in the best interest of the child.

“We are the voice of the children in court,” Thomas said of the program. “This is a chance to literally protect that child.”

Amy Carmichael previously recruited and trained the program’s volunteers – though she will still be involved with the program, Rich will now be overseeing the process of bringing in and educating new volunteers.

“Volunteers are the lifeblood of CASA’s effort to help children,” Thomas said.

For Rich, the opportunity to work with the DCFRC was one she jumped at.

She had become familiar with the program through her husband, who previously volunteered with the CASA program, and applied immediately after hearing about the opening.

“It matches my heart for Selma and what I want to do here,” Rich said of the new position. “My heart was always for working for our community.”

Rich, raised and educated in Orange County, California, has a degree in transformational ministries and has been involved with a local church program to assist foster families.

“I see the potential in Selma,” Rich said. “I see this as a way to help our children be in better situations.”

And Rich is hitting the ground running, already angling to add to the center’s current stock of 12 CASA volunteers.

“The ideal volunteer is passionate about making a difference in the world and protecting our most precious asset: our children,” Thomas said.

“I don’t think you can go into this without compassion,” Rich added. “We’re working with lives.”

For Rich, college students  studying law or social work, as well as retired teachers, are uniquely suited to fill these volunteer slots, though anyone over the age of 21 that can pass a background check is eligible to help out.

After an interview and background check, volunteers undergo 20 hours of training, some of which can be completed digitally, before being handed a case.

Once they take on a case, volunteers must be able to visit the child, either at home or at school, at least once a month and be present for any court hearings.

According to Thomas, CASA volunteers are sworn in as officers of the court once they have completed their training.

For more information or to volunteer, contact Rich at 334-874-7785 or via email at noellerich.frc@gmail.com.