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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


Pirate party to raise funds for Berlin nonprofit

(March 19, 2015) Lower Shore CASA is looking for a few good pirates for the Berlin-based program’s biggest fundraiser of the year.
Part of Worcester Youth and Family Services Inc., CASA, or Court Appointed Special Advocate, recruits and trains volunteers to advocate for abused and neglected children.
Maria Cusimano, CASA volunteer coordinator, said the programs tries to “make sure children don’t get lost in the court system.”
“There are laws in place now that restrict children from being in foster care for too long, with no end goal of adoption or reunification with their parents,” she said. “We want to make sure that the process stays on track in a timely manner and that children are not being placed somewhere that they could not potentially stay. This is difficult, because we also don’t want children changing placements over and over again.
“Studies across the nation show that children with a CASA volunteer remain in foster care less time than those children without a volunteer.”
Volunteers remain in contact with children until they get a permanent home or age out at 21.
“It can be difficult at times to hear about some of the abuse or neglect that these children have gone through, but we have to be strong for the children to show them that they can get through the hard times,” Cusimano said.
“The program is ultimately very rewarding, as we can help find these children permanent homes or assist in reunifying them with their parents. It is really a team effort between many different agencies and people in the community to help these children prosper.”
Cusimano said the program worked with nearly 60 local children during the last year and enlisted 42 volunteers.
“Our goal is to be the one constant person in their life through this whole process,” she said. “Some of the children we advocate for may change placements several times. Along with their placement changes, their foster parent, school, friends, therapist, social worker, etc. often changes. The whole process can be very traumatizing for children. Our local department of social services does a wonderful job, but many times the placement changes are out of their hands.”
CASA volunteers are asked to make a commitment to their assigned children until permanency has been reached.
“When everything else in the child’s life has changed and is up in the air, we want them to know that we are there for them and not going anywhere,” Cusimano said. “Our volunteers try to form strong relationships with the children and strive to be a positive role model as well.”
The sixth annual Pirate Party to Help Sink Child Abuse will be held at Sunset Grille on Friday, May 30 from 5-8 p.m.
Members of the community are invited to raise at least $500 for CASA – or walk the dreaded plank.  
“Many of our pirates do this by guest bartending, having their own fundraisers, and simply asking their friends and family members,” Cusimano said. “I am actually going to partner with my mom this year and we will be pirates.”
Cusimano said the program is also soliciting sponsors, for $1,000, and seeking prize donations.
Entry is $15 and includes free food and live music, with additional games, raffles and a happy hour until 7 p.m. Guests are encouraged to dress in pirate attire.
All proceeds benefit CASA.
“This is our agency’s biggest fundraiser of the year,” Cusimano said. “Since our grant [with the Administrative Office of the Courts] is a matching grant, every dollar raised is matched by the AOC.”
For more information, call 410-641-4598 or visit