Family Advocates is an agency that not only changes the lives of children but also changes the lives of its workers and volunteers. This was apparent at their updated branding launch party on July 21, held at Thaddeus C. Gallery in LaPorte.
Family Advocates is an independent agency that works in the best interests of children and families. Family Advocates provides three different programs: Harmony House, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), and Community Youth Advocates (CYA).
Harmony House provides supervised visitation and exchanges. Family Advocates provides a homey setting that helps children feel more welcome and comfortable. They also offer monitored exchanges of children where parents cannot interact with each other. Parent education and support is also available to parents at no cost.
“It is a really needed program that helps a lot of people that experience domestic violence, child abuse, and neglect. We have a home-like setting when the kids come, so it doesn’t look like a facility,” says Cheryl Highsmith, Director of Harmony House.
The CASA Program provides advocacy in court for children that have been removed due to abuse or neglect. This program utilizes trained volunteers to advocate on behalf of the child's best interest.
Lastly, Community Youth Advocates (CYA) works with children to mentor them and ensure they have all the help they need to become successful.
“Our Community Youth Advocate program works with kids that are struggling to find their potential, and we use a one-on-one personal mentor program to help kids find their strengths. This leads them to uncover a lot of things that are good for them,” says Brenda Stellema, the Director of CYA.
Stellema explains that there are many volunteer opportunities within all the different sections of Family Advocates, especially as they are going into the new school year. This is where they receive many referrals for students that need help.
The launch party was to highlight the new logo that included these three different programs. This logo shows that they are not just three separate entities instead they all work together to create Family Advocates and help children and families in La Porte County.
This was an opportunity for Family Advocates to share their mission. As well, Family Advocates in a non-profit and they are always in fundraising mode.
Jackie Dermody, the CEO of Family Advocates, said in her speech, “We want to be really good stewards of our money to make sure that we have the right amount of people doing the right work.”
Dermody went on to thank the various people who have helped her in her new position as CEO. Former CEO, Karen Biernacki, attended and was one of those people and the Family Advocates staff.
“I want to say I am very thankful to Karen Biernacki, who is the original CEO. She established the program 32 years ago, and this was her last year and she helped me transition. She’s awesome,” says Dermody.
Family Advocates has two big events to look forward to. On August 20, they will be hosting their wiffleball tournament, and October 22 will be their Masquerade Ball!
“You can go to our website if you want to be a volunteer,” Dermody reminds. “There are a lot of different ways to help. You can volunteer, you can donate, or you can also just share our story with other people in the community that might be looking for a way to give back.”
For more information on Family Advocates, visit: https://lpfamilyadvocates.com/