Eight volunteers from CHD’s Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Hampden County, recently gathered at CHD’s Children and Families Offices on Park Street in West Springfield to launch a new season of their Book Club. Pictured are (L-R, front row) Anne Landry and Joanne Cole; (back row) Debbie Levy, Cecilia Rennix, Colleen Bugbee, Ginger Elliott, and Stefany Schaefer.
Instead of discussing a book, this time they watched a film: Instant Family, a comedy that portrays the transformative journey of a couple into parenthood through adoption. The group meets monthly with breaks in the summer and over the holidays. Get-togethers are both virtual and in person at local libraries, CASA’s offices, and in members’ homes. In their last meeting of the summer, book club leader Schaefer hosted a barbecue at her home, where nine members shared food and conversation about the books Grit, Demon Copperhead, and The Body Keeps the Score.
Launched by Schaefer in 2020, the club began as a virtual gathering spot during the COVID lockdown, and it blossomed when society’s pandemic gathering restrictions were lifted. Advocate Supervisor Lindsay Osborn said that the book club texts help inform the program’s advocacy for those they serve. “Covering issues found in CASA cases, the books have afforded opportunities for CASA staff and volunteers to discuss topics of permanency, trauma, sexual abuse, and gender identity,” she said.
CASA is seeking new volunteers to serve as advocates for children in need in the community. Program staff will host virtual information sessions in November, December, and January to help prospective volunteers learn more about the role in advance of the program’s next round of training.