CASA for Kids of East Texas is looking for more volunteers to ‘stand in the gap’ for kids

Published: Sep. 15, 2021 at 10:48 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 15, 2021 at 11:16 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - CASA for Kids of East Texas Executive Director Mary Jo Burgess said the need for volunteers has multiplied throughout the pandemic.

“In 2020, sadly, we broke records here in Smith County,” Burgess said. “We served 100 more kids than we had in the past, and already in 2021, we’re seeing a 9% increase again.”

Burgess emphasized the need for more male volunteers, as only 17% of the volunteers are male.

“We work really diligently to match the child and their needs with the perfect volunteer,” Burgess said. “So we want some men that can come out, and play sports with these kids, get to know them, relate on their level.”

CASA for Kids of East Texas advocates for abused and neglected children.

“We serve as the court appointed guardian ad litem,” Burgess said. “We build a relationship with the child, we learn about their needs, we go to court, and we advocate for their best interest.”

“I wish no child had to actually go through this, but since they do have to, we do need people to stand in the gap for these children everyday,” Engagement Coordinator Paquita Hanks said. “We have over 200 volunteers, but we have over 700 children, so it’s definitely a need in this area.”

For more information on volunteer training days and events, head to their website at

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