CASA Mental Health’s 2023 Annual General Meeting highlighted major milestones the organization has achieved over the past year.
On Sept. 20, the Board of Directors, CASA staff and others gathered for an energized meeting at CASA West.
Board Chair Janet Hancock underscored the tremendous ongoing support CASA has received and recognized the work of staff and physicians in supporting the 4,100 children, youth and families the organization served in 2022-23.
“The essential services CASA provides to children and families are needed now more than ever,” Janet said. “The staff have continued to work tirelessly to adapt service delivery where necessary to support all those we serve.”
CEO Bonnie Blakley highlighted the efforts made to reach children, youth and families where they are at, including the opening of CASA Classrooms and growing staff by more than 130 people in the past year.
“What we see more than anything as a community at CASA now is that any kid or family regardless of where you are in Alberta, regardless of the services you need, has a continuum of services,” she said. “We’re just one piece of the puzzle.”
Attendees also heard from CASA Research Chair Dr. Daniel Morena de Luca on his work examining genetics and brain disorders, working closely with those on the autism spectrum or who live with developmental disorders and how to enhance patient care.
Three awards were also given out, honouring the incredible work accomplished by CASA staff and volunteers.
The Dr. Myer Horowitz Book Award, named after one of CASA’s honourary patrons, is presented to persons who have made outstanding contributions in the field of child, adolescent and family mental health, either in a professional or non-professional capacity.
This year the award was presented to CASA’s Professional Development and Education team: Chelsea Ohlmann, Stephanie Parent-Chandler, Dr. Heather Boynton, Dr. Beena Thomas and Kennedy Chwyl.
The team delivers education, coaching and mentoring to both novice and experienced children’s therapists in rural Alberta. They also work within CASA to fill gaps in expertise and build professional development into the CASA staff experience.
In 2015, the Harris Award for Outstanding Volunteer Contributions was established in recognition of the extraordinary volunteer contributions made by Gwen and Ross Harris who supported CASA through its first 25 years.
This year’s recipient is Julia Weran, who has been an active volunteer at CASA since 2021. Over that time, she has contributed more than 175 volunteer hours in various ways, including the CASA Casino, Golf Classic, holiday decorating at CASA House and most recently assisting the CASA Occupational Health and Safety team with the Toy and Therapeutic device management project.
Julia has also contributed more than 120 hours in childminding and clinical program support, helping reduce barriers for caregivers, parents, patients and their siblings.
The final award of the evening was the inaugural Peggie and Ernie Stevens Philanthropy Award, named in honour of the remarkable impact the Stevens, founding members of the former CASA Foundation, have made.
Recipient Dr. Teresa Debevc has showcased an exceptional dedication to CASA since 2013, where she hosted a Valentine’s dinner and raised funds to help CASA with a new building.
A major gift of $500,000 was announced by Teresa at the 2015 CASA Carnival to kick start the capital campaign to raise funds for CASA Centre. The 2016 gala event wrapped up the campaign, raising a record amount of more than $1 million. Teresa also joined CASA’s long distance bike tours supporting children and youth and has consistently attended all CASA events and participated in anything and everything related to CASA.