Santa Cruz Good Times

Tuesday
Sep 30th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Running for Children’s Futures

news2-1Local professional runner leads Wharf to Wharf team to help foster kids

Among the approximately 600 kids admitted into foster care in Santa Cruz County last year was a 7-year-old boy and his 8-year-old sister. 

Both children, however, thought they were 5.

Their parents led them to believe this so that if anyone asked the children why they were not in school, they could answer that they were only 5 years old—too young to incriminate their parents for not enrolling them.

The judge for their case recognized that these kids had especially difficult circumstances, and requested that two volunteers from Court Appointed Special Advocates of Santa Cruz (CASA) be assigned to the kids. CASA is a nonprofit that pairs foster kids in tough situations with adult volunteers who serve as mentors, making sure the child’s education and new home life is going well, and forming consistent relationships—sometimes the only consistent relationship the child has during their case, which usually last around two years.

The advocates assigned to the brother and sister pair ensured they were in safe housing and gave them emotional support. They also helped with special tutoring so they could catch up with their peers educationally.

“None of us here at CASA will forget the day they came running into the house saying, ‘We can read!’” says CASA Director of Development Linda Bixby. “There wasn’t a dry eye here.”

The first CASA was founded in Seattle in 1977, when a juvenile court judge spoke out about the lack of information available to him about the foster children whose fate he was deciding. He had the idea for adult volunteers, who would be sworn officers of the court, acting as middlemen who get to know the kids and then advocate on their behalf in court.

CASA of Santa Cruz, which recently welcomed in a new board of officers led by ocean research specialist Susan Coale, is now one of 933 programs in the national network. It was founded in 1991 after a particularly tragic case of child abuse caught the public’s attention.

“It was recognized that the foster care system is really overburdened, and unable to provide the degree of attention the kids in the system really need,” says Bixby. “The presence of one individual in [children’s] lives during this scary time of foster care really makes a profound difference in their lives.”

news2-2Brett GotcherCASA trains and assigns advocates to about 200 children a year, and there is usually a waiting list of around 30 cases. As a private nonprofit, more than half of CASA’s budget comes from community donations. They have two big fundraisers a year, one of which is participation in Wharf to Wharf.

The annual six-mile race from Santa Cruz to Capitola attracts a range of participants, from recreational runners to world-class athletes such as Watsonville native Brett Gotcher, an alternate for the 2012 U.S. Olympic track team. Gotcher, who says he has run the race too many times to count, will be running at this year’s Sunday, July 28 race as honorary captain of Team CASA, a group of more than 70 runners who will raise money for the organization through pledges. This is the second year CASA has participated in Wharf to Wharf.

“One of the reasons I moved back is so that I could be involved in the community a little bit more,” says Gotcher, an Aptos High and Stanford alumnus who recently returned to the area from Arizona. “[Team CASA] turned up and was the perfect opportunity to start that.”

Gotcher is currently training to try for a spot on the 2016 Olympic team. He called being an alternate for the 2012 team “bittersweet,” but his passion for running doesn’t seem to have wavered—he recently returned from a month of training in Flagstaff, Ariz., where the high elevation helps runners increase their lung capacity.

Bixby says she looks forward to Gotcher’s words of inspiration for Team CASA. As for Gotcher, he’s excited to help the organization, and also to race in such a familiar setting.

“This community has given me so much in all my time here, and I just remember being in high school and having so much support all the time,” he says. “It’s always a blast to run in front of a home crowd.”

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Reflecting Glass

Composer Philip Glass’ first trip to Big Sur was by motorcycle; little did he know that he’d establish a music festival there six decades later.

 

Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, occurs this year during Libra, the sign of creating right relations with all aspects life and with earth’s kingdoms. We contemplate (the Libra meditation) forgiveness, which means, “to give for another.” Forgiveness is not pardon. It’s a sacrifice (fire in the heart, giving from the heart). Forgiveness is giving up for the good of the other. This is the law of evolution (the path of return).

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of September 26

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Wurst Case Scenario

Venus Spirits releases agave spirit, Renee Shepherd on planting garlic, Sausagefest 2014, and wine harvest in full swing

 

Do you think you are addicted to technology?

Santa Cruz  |  Unemployed

 

Best of Santa Cruz County

The 2013 Santa Cruz County Readers' Poll and Critics’ Picks It’s our biggest issue of the year, and in it, your votes—more than 6,500 of them—determined the winners of The Best of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll. New to the long list of local restaurants, shops and other notables that captured your interest: Best Beer Selection, Best Locally Owned Business, Best Customer Service and Best Marijuana Dispensary. In the meantime, many readers were ever so chatty online about potential new categories. Some of the suggestions that stood out: Best Teen Program and Best Web Design/Designer. But what about: Dog Park, Church, Hotel, Local Farm, Therapist (I second that!) or Sports Bar—not to be confused with Bra. Our favorite suggestion: Best Act of Kindness—one reader noted Café Gratitude and the free meals it offered to the Santa Cruz Police Department in the aftermath of recent crimes. Perhaps some of these can be woven into next year’s ballot, so stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy the following pages and take note of our Critics’ Picks, too, beginning on page 91. A big thanks for voting—and for reading—and an even bigger congratulations to all of the winners. Enjoy.  -Greg Archer, EditorBest of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll INDEX

 

Apricot Wine for Dessert

Thomas Kruse Winery, a participant in the new Santa Clara Wine Trail, has been around for a long time—since 1971, to be exact. When our little group arrived to try some wine at the Kruses’ low-key tasting room, Thomas Kruse and his wife Karen were there to greet us. Theirs is a small operation, and they’re proud to offer quality wine at affordable prices. “Because we are small and low-tech, it’s easy to relate to the whole winemaking process,” says Karen—and the Kruses take pride in making wine “just like it has been made for centuries.”