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Pouches' Community Corner

Rappahannock Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA)

The Rappahannock Area Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) is an advocacy center serving children in the Greater Fredericksburg area comprised of Fredericksburg City and the counties of King George, Spotsylvania and Stafford. Its mission is to advocate for and locate permanent homes for abused and neglected children who are navigating the court system.


Appointed by Juvenile & Domestic Relations Court judges, CASA volunteers are tasked with the following responsibilities:

1. Investigate abused children’s lives and report on what they need for safety and wellness.
2. Spend time talking with the children, their relatives, foster parents, social workers, teachers, and others to identify the children’s needs.
3. Provide judges’ detailed reports with recommendations about where the children can live safely, and which services may help them.

Rappahannock CASA, which has been in operation since 1990, serves over 170 area children each year. Last year, however, its caseload rose dramatically with 236 children served as of June. Based on these elevated numbers, CASA is always on the hunt for highly qualified volunteers.

The National Children’s Alliance estimates that nearly 700,000 children are abused in the United States annually. Of these children, 74.4% suffer neglect, 17.2% physical abuse and 8.4% sexual abuse. Advocacy centers work to curb these trends by preventing abuse, protecting children, holding offenders accountable and helping victims heal.

CASA volunteers are thoroughly trained in matters such as the effects of various forms abuse and neglect on families, being objective and compassionate, interviewing and report writing, the role of court officers and more. People interested in volunteering with CASA are required to complete an application, take part in an interview and complete background checks before participating in training. While the stories you’ll hear will tug on your heart, the reward is helping to change the future of a child by ensuring they go to a loving home.

Want to learn more about CASA and how to volunteer? Visit or call (540) 710-6199.

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Youth in Philanthropy

Youth in Phil

Young people worldwide are transforming their communities through philanthropy. The Foundation Center estimates that young people have raised over $14 million in grant money since 2001, and the number only keeps growing.

The Youth in Philanthropy (YIP) program teaches young people the importance of serving their community, encourages their involvement in philanthropy and provides them the opportunity to champion causes that are important to them. According to YIP’s website, youth are taught important lessons, such as how to “demonstrate leadership, solve problems, study proposals, manage budgets, work together, and present their views to an audience of peers and adults.”

YIP boasts over five years of grant history. They have tackled and funded important social causes like domestic violence, homelessness, hospice, mental health, pregnancy, sexual assault and more. Some notable organizations they have supported include:

• disAbility Resource Center
• Germanna Community College
• Hope House
• Mental Health America of Fredericksburg
• Micah Ecumenical Ministries
• Safe Harbor Child Advocacy Center, and
• The Salvation Army

Every grant cycle invites 40 sophomore, junior and senior high school students from the counties of Caroline, King George, Spotsylvania, Stafford, and the city of Fredericksburg to participate. The group meets weekly from mid-August through mid-December. Students are recommended to apply in their eighth-grade year.

For more information, visit, or call (540) 373-9292.

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Young Widows' Meet Up

According to Statista there were roughly 15.1 million widows in the United States in 2018. In the same year, an estimated 844,000 children were living with a single widowed parent. This unfortunate reality shows the impact that the death of a spouse has on a family.

The Young Widow(ers) With Children Meet Up allows widows and widowers in the Fredericksburg area to come together as a community and meet in a safe environment.

“Being a young widow with children can be isolating and overwhelming,” says event leader Brianna Simpson. “When people think ‘widow,’ they think old. Unfortunately, that is just not the case for many of us.”

Simpson lost her husband in January 2019 and has been adjusting to life in Fredericksburg with her 2-year-old son. Her experiences as a widow led her to organize this recurring event to bring together parents and children affected by grief.

The meet up will occur in Kenmore Park on July 20 from 5 to 7 p.m. Families will have a chance to meet new people, take photos, play with animals from the SPCA, and enjoy snacks and drinks. There will be printed information on local grief resources at the event. RSVP is requested.

Interested in attending? Visit the official event page at 

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Cooking Autism, Inc.

For an autistic child, recreation can be a significant opportunity. Not only is it a chance to practice physical aptitude and social skills, but it can increase motivation and self-confidence. According to, an autistic child mastering a specific activity or sport can have a positive effect on their performance in school and work. In this way, recreation can change an autistic child’s everyday life.

Cooking Autism, Inc. is driven to help children with neurological disorders (including autism) learn how to cook. Participants are encouraged to pick up critical communication skills, learn how to work as a team and be more independent. They can build skills in math, reading, and science, and learn about cooking-related topics such as health and nutrition.

The process is designed specifically for children with neurological disorders. According to Cooking Autism, Inc.’s official website, some of the supports in place include:
• Visual recipes, which break down a complex process into manageable steps,
• Assistive technologies, which provide audiological and visual support,
• Adaptable cooking equipment, which is designed to be safe for autistic children, and
• A step-by-step process, which makes activities learnable and fun for all.

Cooking Autism, Inc. hosts events in the Fredericksburg area, including cooking classes, fundraisers and more. They are dedicated to serving classes, students, teachers and communities by providing support for children with special needs.

If you’d like to learn more, visit or call (321) 480-5029.

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Village Fathers

Village Fathers is a fatherhood education program and support group sponsored by Healthy Families Rappahannock. Its goal is to help fathers improve their parenting skills by promoting healthy and positive attitudes towards fatherhood and parenting.

According to a survey conducted by Pew Research Center, “7 in 10 adults say it’s equally important for new babies to bond with their mother and their father.” Village Fathers equips dad to do just that, forge a bond with their children while learning how to raise them in tandem with the other parent.

The program offers twelve weekly sessions to help fathers to connect with other dads to develop relationships, understand fatherhood and their role in the lives of their children, learn how to parent and co-parent, and more. Upon completing the program, fathers in the Village Fathers program will be seen as more positive role models and active parents in their children’s lives.

The 12 Week Program includes the following sessions:

1. Family History
2. What It Means to be a Man
3. Showing and Handling Feelings
4. Men’s Health
5. Communication
6. The Father’s Role
7. Discipline
8. Children's Growth
9. Getting Involved
10. Working with Mom and Co-Parenting
11. Dads and Work
12. My 24/7 Dad Checklist

Interested in participating in the Village Fathers program? Learn more at, or by calling 540-374-3366 x114.

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