2018 Youth Holiday Party!

Last Saturday was one of the best days of the year - our annual Youth Holiday Party! Over 200 youth, CASAs, families and volunteers came together to celebrate the season. SFCASA Volunteer Debbie Degutis spearheaded an amazing event, with DLA Piper generously hosting again this year, and a delicious lunch provided by Olive Garden. Cinta Aveda Institute was there styling new hairdo’s and makeup, and we even had an awesome photo booth from Two Dudes Photos! Kids made crafts, had their faces painted and portraits drawn and got to connect with their friends and family. Our balloon artist Twistyman was back again and as ever, the bingo room was a huge hit! The kids even got to indulge in some delicious treats from Cakes 4 Kids and took home tons of prizes.

After all the fun, kids went home with a gift provided by SFCASA with help from our incredible gift drive partners! This year, gift drives by Susan Crown and Mulberry’s Market, Lisa Spinali, Wells Fargo, Maverick Capital, Progress Investment Management, St. Finn Barr School, LinkedIn, Hamilton Lane, Merrill Lynch, DLA Piper, Neuberger Berman and Millennium Farm brought in over $30,000 in gifts for our kids! Stockings stuffed to the brim were provided by Holland & Knight, Wells Fargo and the USF Kappa Alpha Theta Chapter, and Project Glimmer provided tons of goodies for kids to take home. SFCASA is so grateful for our amazing community of supporters who worked so hard to make the party a memorable day for our youth!

Check out some of the photos from this magical day:


Swearing-In and Advocate Appreciation!

October was a busy month for SFCASA! We swore in our newest class of CASAs with a great ceremony by Judge Darwin. We now have 11 new CASAs ready to take a case and match with a youth!

We also hosted our annual Advocate Appreciation Party, where we honor all the amazing hard word our advocates do for San Francisco’s foster youth. Cioppino’s hosted a fabulous Italian seafood meal and we heard heartfelt remarks from Unified Family Court Judge Monica Wiley, Dependency Panel attorneys Scott Goering and Gregg Bryon, and HSA social workers Ernest “E.T.” Trice, Kimbra Hall, and Tracy Burris. Advocates were treated to some exciting door prizes and as always we had our famous wine toss!

Check out pictures from both events here!

Thank You for the Youth Holiday Party!

CASAs work hard all year long to make sure foster youth can participate in the rites and traditions of childhood, while also helping to facilitate relationships with siblings and relatives. CASAs facilitate participation in extracurricular activities, summer camps, birthday celebrations, and milestones such as graduation ceremonies and proms. They work with families, foster families and social workers to make sure youth see their siblings regularly.

Holidays can be a particularly difficult time for children and youth who’ve been removed from their homes and communities. Youth may be missing their own families traditions, or lack the traditions that they see all around them. Many of our clients have no one buying them presents or preparing special holiday meals. A whole community of volunteers and supporters come together each year to create a holiday tradition that brings all of SFCASA’s clients and volunteers together, along with many siblings and parents. For some of our youth, this holiday party has become their own holiday tradition. One recently emancipated youth even made a special request to attend, as it had become a valued tradition for her and her CASA volunteer.

For a second year, DLA Piper hosted our youth holiday party at their 24th floor offices with spectacular views. Led by Sandy Holstrom, who also facilitated a wildly successful gift drive, DLA Piper volunteers transformed the office into a holiday wonderland. Once again volunteer extraordinaire Debbie Degutis planned a party which provided a plethora of fun and memorable activities for our young guests. From a teen room of video and board games to backpack or cookie decorating, every child was engaged in numerous activities throughout the day.

Caricature artist Zach Trenholm provided youth and adults a beautiful memento, balloon artist Twistyman impressed guests with all sorts of creations, Bianca and Dana returned for a fifth year with a slew of DIY crafting fun, an amazing team of stylists from Cinta Aveda Institute made inner beauty shine outward, and the kids got to select their own props and costumes for the photo booth provided by TwoDudes, Cari and Justin. Cookie decorating was a huge hit, led this year by Anne Stone and Savannah Sellman, with cookies generously made by Erin Rivera. Face painting artists Erin Kim and Maria Gonzalez transformed kids into everything from scary monsters to glittering princesses, and of course the ever-popular bingo room was back, with DLA Piper calling the games. We also had a large group of generous community members lending a hand and a smile throughout the day.

Cake4Kids provided beautiful desserts to complete what was a terrific Italian meal from Olive Garden. Most guests even went home with a to-go box for another delicious meal that evening. In addition to a festive buffet, every child left the party with an individually selected holiday gift. Immense thanks go to the numerous volunteers and organizations holding gift drive ensuring every gift wish was fulfilled, including DLA Piper, Susan Crown, Mulberry’s Market, Maverick Capital, Lisa Spinali, Matt Rechtin, Progress Investment Management, Withers LLP, St. Finn Barr School, Berkeley Playhouse, Millennium Farm, and Debbie Degutis. Our community was so generous that numerous requests for extracurricular activities and birthday gifts will also be covered throughout the year.

Thank you to all who help make the holidays more joyous for San Francisco’s youth in foster care. It takes hundreds of people to make the party and gifts a reality each year and your contributions make a real difference. Take a look through our photo gallery to get a sense of this special day.

Photos: ACT OUT Photography by Jim Norrena, and photo booth by TwoDudes Photo

The SFCASA Report

On Thursday, September 28th SFCASA Executive Director Renee Espinoza and Board member Harry Turner hosted our first SFCASA Report webinar. The webinar detailed the progress we've made on our four-year strategic plan and 25th Anniversary Campaign, shared the touching story of Harry's time as a CASA volunteer and his relationship with Tae, his young person, and outlined the core model of the CASA program. View the recording of the video call below.

For more information on the 25th Anniversary Campaign, click here.