On Friday, Sept. 20, Passaic County Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) held its annual Voices for Children Gala at the Preakness Hills Country Club in Wayne.
The event honored Paterson resident Karen Walker and former resident, the late Charles Walker, for their extraordinary commitment to sheltering and advocating on behalf of children in the foster care system.
The Walkers served as foster parents for 26 children and adopted four.
Additionally, Charles was a Passaic County CASA volunteer for five years, and during this time, he served as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for nine children in foster care.
Philanthropists and Passaic County CASA supporters Craig and Pamela Goldman surprised attendees during the event with a $100,000 match challenge, that was successfully achieved by the gala attendees that night. In total, CASA raised $219,000.
“We’re so grateful to our CASA volunteers and our greater CASA family for their support in bringing us closer to realizing our mission of advocating for every child in the Passaic County foster care system. Our work is only possible because of people like Charles and Karen Walker, who we honored tonight,” Executive Director of Passaic County CASA Erica Fischer-Kaslander said. “If we’re to realize our goal of serving every child, it will take a village, and that village came out in force at our gala. I want to thank our generous donors, Craig and Pamela Goldman, who gifted us with a generous donation of $100,000 that our community so graciously matched and then some. Every year, nearly 500 children spend time in foster care, and unfortunately, many of them do not have the benefit of an advocate due to limited funding. Worse yet, more than half of the children in the system are aﬀected by the opiate crisis — a number that continues to grow. This is unacceptable, which is why it is imperative that we are proactive on this front, so no child is without the help they deserve.”
The gala was attended by 270 guests including Wayne Mayor Christopher Vergano, Gala Chairperson Jonathan Aber of the Scirocco Insurance Group, and Steven Millstein of The Stro Companies.