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vGIRLS ON THE RUN continued from page 23 Doctorman, who is on hiatus from the program this spring as she adjusts to her work at Wayne State College, sees only unlimited opportunities for the girls who are part of this program. “You often hear coaches say that they wish they had this program when they were in elementary school,” said Doctorman. “I know it has helped me grow as a woman. I cannot imagine what it would be like to realize this as a third grader and to have this confidence in your self before middle school. Can you imagine? Watch out world! These girls are going to take over, and it is amazing!” vBy Julie Eickhoff vFAMILIES continued from page 17 they required to take part in the training, but they must be committed to the case over its duration. “That’s a very special person to step up and do that,” she explains. If you feel that you might be that special person to fill this need, you can volunteer by calling Crystal at the Yankton CASA office at 760-1766, email the office at casacasemanager@outlook.com or visit the National Website, www.casaforchildren.org. Volunteers must be at least 21 years of age, pass necessary background checks, provide references and complete an interview. The program was named Southeast CASA when it began because there was the goal to expand into other counties. They’ve accomplished their vision, expanding to serve Clay and Bon Homme County and will soon be expanding to Union County. The number of children receiving CASA services increases every year, having assisted 54 children in 2017. The effort of the volunteers reaps rewards, Rodgers-Conti explains. “It’s so rewarding to know that the effort that’s put in really does matter, and that these kids will have a better childhood so that when they get to be parents, they’ll have better parenting skills.” “Because of the confidentiality of our cases, the general public has no idea that these cases are going on,” she explains. That becomes frustrating to her because she knows that people care about children and no one wants to see a child suffer. “It is a benefit to the community when the children are taken care of and raised properly,” she explains. The agency will be displaying blue pinwheel “gardens” in front of their major business sponsors in Yankton and Vermillion in April. Rodgers-Conti explains that each pinwheel in the garden represents one abused or neglected child who was served by Southeast CASA last year, a total of 54 children will be represented by the pinwheels. They are also planning a child abuse prevention activity in teamwork with the Pathways Shelter for the Homeless in Yankton. It will provide children with educational, safety and hygiene items. She also explains to be on the lookout starting in April for a blue-ribbon car magnet reading, “End Child Abuse,” distributed by CASA. River City Family Connections Amy Haselhorst with River City Family Connections (RCFC) explains the agency’s two main services – the safe exchange of and safe visits for parents and children. The agency, started about 15 years ago due to a community need and previously located on 4th Street, has been at their new location on Goeden Drive for the past seven years. Brad Link is the full-time RCFC coordinator, while Haselhorst is a monitor/education specialist part time. Two other staff also help with services in the evenings. Amy and her husband Kevin, who works in the Ag Department 26vHERVOICEvMARCH/APRIL 2018 Got Inspiration? We would love to hear about who and what inspires you. Do you know someone that should be featured in hervoice? Submit to: hervoiceonline.com at First Dakota National Bank, have three children: Megan, a junior in high school; Gavin, an 8th grader and Cale, a 4th grader at Beadle Elementary. Haselhorst has been with RCFC for two years. She spent the previous 18 years as an occupational therapy assistant, traveling all over South Dakota and Nebraska to help children with developmental disabilities in school settings. After she and husband Kevin relocated to Yankton, she decided she wanted to try a new venture. With her desire to help children, she opted for RCFC, a natural fit for her. “I know I love working with kids. I know that’s what I’m good at. So, I picked to go this avenue,” she beams. Her work days vary because all situations are different, but most often she is working with direct client services of the safe exchanges or safe visits. For the safe exchange, the RCFC staff will physically exchange children with two parents that, for whatever reason, should not be in contact with one another. For the safe visits, RCFC provides a safe environment and monitoring for parents and their children. The staff can monitor the conversations through a video and monitor feed, with the viewing station in another room. She explains that the children may or may not be aware of why RCFC services are being used. “Child abuse, no one wants to talk about it, but we all know that it’s happening in all of our societies everywhere,” she explains. “But that’s difficult to talk about because no one wants to think that people are hurting children. But it needs to be done so we can help protect the kids and do something about it.” The agency works with a team of child advocates in the area: Department of Social Services, CASA, local court services, Parents as Teachers, River City Domestic Violence Center and Yankton Police Department. They will take referrals from lawyers and even individuals themselves. “We have to realize that child abuse and neglect is happening. It’s not unique to Yankton or Yankton County, it’s happening everywhere,” Haselhorst explains. “Not every community is lucky enough to have the agency like this. There actually are very few agencies that provide the services we do in this state.” She feels that their agency’s biggest challenge is understanding that all the families that they serve have different dynamics and tailoring their services to bet fit that family’s needs. She explains their role in the healthy family relationship. “It’s finding out what are their needs, how best to communicate with this family and basically serving them the best that we can, so families are healthy and happy.” RCFC presents various awareness activities through social media and their Facebook page, River City Family Connections. During the vFAMILIES continued on page 27

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