The newest member of the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Santa Barbara County has joined with one goal in mind – to help the many children in our community facing abuse and/or neglect. With nearly 300 children currently being served and a waitlist of more than 60, there is much work to be done, and she is ready for the job.
Marissa Acker is the new Marketing and Communications Coordinator for CASA of Santa Barbara County. In her role, she will work alongside Recruitment and Outreach Director Crystal Moreno to plan comprehensive community outreach efforts and initiate marketing campaigns to increase public awareness in order to recruit many more CASA volunteers. Together they have a goal to find 110 community volunteers.
Originally from Southern California, Marissa graduated with a degree in Graphics and Interior Architecture and is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Accounting at Golden Gate University. Marissa brings to CASA a variety of skills, including a creative eye for graphic design.
In her spare time, Marissa enjoys volunteering and considers giving back to be an important part of her life. “While my husband was in law school, I noticed he would often help others with the knowledge he was gaining. That inspired me to become more proactive in my community. I’m very passionate about community service and that led me to CASA,” she states. New to the area, she currently serves at her children’s school and local church and is motivated to get even more involved in her new community. Marissa’s prior volunteer experience includes fundraising efforts with Bakersfield Museum of Art and Toys for Tots. She also enjoys teaching fitness classes and taking long walks with her husband and three children.
About CASA of Santa Barbara County
CASA, which stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates, trains volunteers who are sworn-in by a juvenile judge to help ensure abused or neglected children find a safe, permanent home as quickly as possible. The role of a CASA volunteer is to act as an extra pair of eyes and ears for the court, collecting information through observation and interviews with key people in the child’s life before reporting back to the judge.
A CASA volunteer advocate speaks on behalf of the child in court. The volunteer meets with the child, family members, teachers, foster parents and others involved in a foster child’s life. The volunteer gathers facts for the court and presents information before a judge in the best interest of the child.
Volunteers complete an application process which includes a screening interview, background and reference checks, and 30 hours of pre-service training. After completion of the pre-service training, volunteers are sworn-in as officers of the court. This gives them the legal authority to conduct research on the child’s situation and submit reports to the court.