The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

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By Forrest Hershberger
Publisher, Sun-Telegraph 

PlainsWest CASA Adds Two Volunteers

New Training Coordinator Announced


November 10, 2021 | View PDF

Two more volunteers have joined the ranks of PlainsWest CASA.

One of the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs) is returning to the office in a different role and the second is a first-time volunteer.

Bridget Goding and Jason Nelke were sworn in as CASAs Tuesday, Nov. 2 in Cheyenne County District before the Honorable Judge Randin Roland.

Goding was on staff with PlainsWest CASA until parenthood took her away from the office. She is returning as a volunteer.

“Everything about the training was different,” she said.

In her previous role, Goding lead the training sessions. PlainsWest CASA, as many other agencies, adapted to the COVID-19 restrictions by adding online training to their options. Goding and Nelke took part in the online classes and session with Whitney Whatley, PlainsWest CASA Volunteer Coordinator.

Nelke was motivated to join PlainsWest CASA because the organization didn't have any LBGT representation. He said he understands the challenges having grown up in a conservative community near the East Coast.

“That is the first thing that drove me to it,” Nelke said.

He said if he can help children grow up differently than he did, he will.

He said two things he learned in the training is to always stay positive, and things are not always how they appear.

He said what did surprise him is the challenges in the Panhandle area.

“I wasn't aware of the need,” he said.

He said he was alarmed at the number of needs in the local community.

Training includes 32 hours of training as set by the National CASA organization. The 32 hours includes self-lead work and classroom instruction. Topics covered by the training include CASA program history, foster care, laws, growth milestones and development, trauma, resilience, professionals involved in child welfare, permanency and achieving permanent placement, poverty, types of abuse, substance abuse, domestic violence, mental health and writing court reports.

PlainsWest CASA has 26 children with a CASA; 12 children are waiting for assignment to a CASA. All of the children are in Cheyenne, Kimball or Deuel Counties. PlainsWest CASA has 26 volunteers including the Goding and Nelke.

PlainsWest CASA also announced a new staff member. Sarah Buhholz is the new training coordinator at PlainsWest CASA. She has 10 years experience as a social worker.


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