Editor’s Note: This is the latest in a series of articles featuring the non-profit help causes that will benefit from Yukon 66 Main Street’s fourth annual “Cruise-In for a Cause” set 5-9 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 15 in downtown Yukon.
By Conrad Dudderar
Yukon’s popular Route 66 car cruise will help “spread the word” about a Canadian County nonprofit that helps abused and neglected children.
This is the second year that Canadian County Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) has been chosen as a beneficiary of Yukon Main Street’s “Cruise-In for a Cause.”
The fourth annual cruise will roll 5-9 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 15 in downtown Yukon.
“Cruise-In for a Cause is a great way for us to raise awareness of our program,” said Dana Lutz, Canadian County CASA’s executive director.
“We are ecstatic to be part of Cruise-In for a Cause. It’s such a huge event for our community. It helps us spread the word about CASA so more people can learn about our program.”
Yukon’s Cruise-In for a Cause is always the third Thursday in September.
All types of vehicles are welcome – from classics and hot rods to vintage and late models.
The CASA program provides community volunteers who represents the best interests of abused and neglected youth who are wards of the juvenile court.
They advocate for children and teens in Department of Human Services (DHS) custody.
“These kids have been removed from their homes because they’ve been abused or neglected,” Lutz explained. “Many of these kids don’t have an adult figure in their life – somebody who’s there for them and somebody to talk to.
A CASA volunteer provides stability during the child welfare journey to make sure the youth doesn’t “fall through the cracks.”
The volunteer follows the child as they move from foster home to foster home or shelter to shelter, advocating for their education, medical needs and more.
Canadian County CASA’s board of directors is sponsoring the organization at the Sept. 15th Main Street cruise.
“We have such a supportive board full of wonderful individuals,” Lutz said. “They will be helping at our booth during the cruise event.”
Yukon’s Cruise-In for a Cause is a free, “open” cruise with participants encouraged to contribute to four non-profit causes.
Car enthusiasts celebrate America’s Main Street in a fun and unique way at the special event.
Besides Canadian County CASA, the 2022 Cruise-In for a Cause will support Savannah Station Therapeutic Riding Center, Youth & Family Services and Yukon Mobile Meals.
Each help cause will have an on-site advocacy booth with information and a collection site for a product drive.
Canadian County CASA’s cruise slogan is “Cars for Kids.”
“We’re collecting gas gift cards so our volunteers can go visit their kids as they’re moved from foster homes or shelters across the state and take them out on fun visits to the park, zoo or places like that,” Lutz said.
Attendees of Yukon Main Street’s Cruise-In for a Cause will be encouraged to provide monetary gifts to the four nonprofit causes at their booths or “donation stations” at the event site.
When they’re not riding, cruise-goers will stroll through the park and show area, watch a constant parade of “cool” rides, visit cause and sponsor booths, and check out fun activities at stops along with way.
A limited number of reserved “park and show” spaces are offered in the 400 block of Main Street. Car owners may select which cause to give part of their registration fee.
The 2022 Cruise-In for a Cause event sponsor is Archery Traditions of Oklahoma.
For more information, call (405) 350-5999 or visit yukon66mainstreet.com
‘WE CAN NEVER FIND ENOUGH’
Canadian County CASA now serves some 100 youth in DHS custody.
“We really need another 100 volunteers so we can serve all the kids in custody in our county,” Lutz pointed out. “Each kid who’s ‘lost’ in the system really needs an advocate who’s there for them.
“We’re always recruiting more volunteers. … and we can never find enough.”
Each CASA volunteer must complete a 30-hour training.
They are then assigned to a child or sibling group who was removed from their home because they were abused and/or neglected.
Through court order, the CASA volunteer may speak with therapists, teachers, doctors, and lawyers on the child’s behalf.
“At a minimum, our volunteers go meet with the child once a month wherever they’re placed – whether it’s a shelter or home,” Lutz explained. “They spend time with them, take them on fun outings and talk about what’s going on in their lives.
“They interview and talk to foster parents. They get a chance to really see what needs this child might have.”
With the information gathered from the child, family and service providers, CASA volunteers make recommendations to the court.
Associate District Judge Bob Hughey is the judge for all Canadian County juvenile cases, which are heard at the Canadian County Children’s Justice Center.
“Judge Hughey is a huge supporter of CASA in Canadian County,” Lutz said. “He takes the recommendations of our volunteers very seriously because our volunteers are donating their time.
“They’re the one person in that courtroom who is purely there for the child.”
Canadian County CASA offers long-term volunteer opportunities.
“Our goal is that each volunteer stays with them through their journey until they find permanency,” Lutz explained. “That’s whether they’re adopted into a loving home, or their parents get services and help so they can return to their parents.”
Many CASA volunteers stay with the youth until they become adults.
Anyone interested in helping with the program is encouraged to visit Canadian County CASA’s Cruise-In for a Cause booth on Sept. 15.
For more information, call (405) 264-5508 or visit canadiancountycasa.org