WAYNE, NJ – The new Wayne Chamber of Commerce has not yet officially launched as an organization, but this hasn’t stopped founder Christian Sees of Integrus Financial from forging ahead.  He has been interviewing Wayne business leaders on the WCC Facebook page on a regular basis. This week, Courtney Como, the Director of Development at the Passaic County CASA was the guest on his show and their conversation was about CASA’s Back-To-School Donation Drive.

CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates. “Our organization primarily trains, recruits and empowers individuals to serve as volunteers to be advocates,” explained Como during her interview. “Advocates work for the best interest of children in Passaic County foster care or the child welfare system.”

Tragically, children are placed in foster care because they have been victims of abuse or neglect and authorities have deemed it necessary for them to be removed from their family home. These children can be as young as one-week to 21-years-old.

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According to Como, CASA’s volunteer advocates are responsible for getting to know the child that is assigned to them by the court. Which includes the child’s educational, emotional and medical needs, as well as understanding what services they need to be successful.

“Our belief is that children in foster care deserve every opportunity to be successful, just like any other child,” said Como. “They are in foster care through no fault of their own, and often the child welfare system can be overcrowded. So, the services that a child may need to keep them on the path to success can sometimes be overlooked. Advocates are the safety net for these kids in a lot of cases.”

Sees brought up the back-to-school drive that CASA is running. “You mentioned that usually in August, you have a bunch of school supplies that you distribute to the kids you advocate for, but that it’s different for you this year,” said Sees.

“Kids are going back to school in a couple of weeks,” said Como. “And the children that we work with don’t always have the supplies they need in order to go back to school with pride, confidence, dignity and on that path to success. So, we make sure that school supplies aren't the things they're worried about.”

Because of the pandemic, CASA’s usual fundraising events have all been canceled and Como said that they had to become creative. This year CASA needs more help with their back-to-school fundraiser.

Sees then said, “In response to this need, the new Wayne Chamber of Commerce is going to be launching Project Backpack, with a goal of donating 175 backpacks filled with school supplies for CASA. We’re going to announce a call-to-action for the Wayne community to help in getting these backpacks in your hand within the next two weeks.”

Como beamed at the news. “We're really grateful to have your support,” she said. “And to have support from the WCC. The Wayne community has been such a big supporter of CASA, and we are so grateful.”  

“We are going to shout it off the rooftops, because maybe there’s somebody out there with the means to help, or knows somebody with the means to help,” Sees said.

The WCC cannot do this alone.  They are asking for Wayne businesses, organizations and individuals to step-up and commit to providing backpacks filled with school supplies.  Different supplies are needed for different age groups, so before running out to the store, reach out to Christian Sees first.

If anyone is interested in supporting the Wayne Chamber of Commerce’s Project Backpack email Christian Sees: chris.sees@integrus-financial.com or call: 551-206-5280

If you are interested in volunteering as an advocate, reach out to CASA. All the information you need is on the CASA website