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Bob Arias
CASA of Polk County
Organization profile
Every year more than half a million abused and neglected children are in need of safe, permanent, nurturing homes. That's where CASA steps in. CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) was created in 1977 to make sure the abuse and neglect these children originally suffered at home doesn't continue as abuse and neglect at the hands of the system. As trained advocates, CASA volunteers are appointed by judges to be a voice for these children in court. The result is that a child is placed into a safe, loving home where he/she can thrive. It is the CASA vision to provide a volunteer for each and every abused and neglected child who needs one.

CASA of Polk County
Office of the District Attorney
850 Main St, County Courthouse
Dallas, OR 97338

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Bob Arias

By Carol M. Karimi

Considering Bob Arias has spent the last 44 years of his life either volunteering or working with volunteers, it would be safe to say that Bob Arias is passionate about volunteering – perhaps even safer to say "apasionado."

As one of the first generations of Peace Corps volunteers, he served in Columbia in 1964. (He also encouraged his brother Ron to volunteer.) After perfecting his Spanish, Arias was hired by the organization to work in Peace Corps’ language training program and eventually served as the organization's director for Colombia, Uruguay and Argentina.

Today, Arias' dedication to service continues as the executive director for CASA of Polk County (Oregon), where he is helping to recruit more Spanish-speaking volunteers, among other duties.

And even now, Arias' own passion for volunteering continues full-speed. In the last quarter alone, Arias logged over 300 hours.

A super volunteer? Sí  – and for his commitment to working in the service of others, Arias was recently honored with the Presidential Volunteer Service Award.

For Arias, as with many older adults who are dedicated to making a difference, volunteering has opened new avenues, instilled new lessons, and exposed him to new cultures.

"I love working with children in need and I enjoy the challenge of being a community volunteer," said Arias. "Being part of the CASA program allows me the opportunity to do both."

A national nonprofit, CASA, or Court Appointed Special Advocates, trains volunteers to speak up for children who have become wards of U.S. courts.

According to the organization, each year around 300,000 children are removed from their homes and placed in foster care or adopted as a result of abuse, neglect or abandonment. Most people are under the impression that wards of the court are automatically appointed a representative who will help them find a safe, permanent and loving home. Unfortunately, this isn't usually the case.

The good news: studies show that children who are paired with a CASA volunteer are less likely to re-enter Child Protective Services.

Today the court system is faced with a rising tide of Hispanic children, and thanks to his background in Latin America, Arias has been tapped with helping drive one of CASA’s most important initiatives: reaching out to the Spanish-speaking community for volunteers. He also sits on the Hispanic-Latino Advisory Board for CASA’s National Association.

"[It’s an] opportunity to use the language and the culture to explain the program," he said.

And if Arias' past successes are any indication, CASA is already well on its way.

What about your volunteer recruitment program? You may be surprised at all the ways today's older adults can contribute to your mission. After all, there's no expiration date on the heart for someone who’s apasionado. Get your listings updated today at VolunteerMatch.

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