2018-04-11, Brandie White, Mesilla Valley CASA


President Lya rang the bell about 8 minutes past noon.  For our invocation, Mary Ellen read us Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Springtime Prayer,” giving thanks for the many wonders of spring.  President Lya then led us in the Pledge of Allegiance.  Greg Fant led us in singing “America the Beautiful.”  This was one of the favorite songs of Paul Comeau who was a member of our Club’s Music Committee for many years. President Lya introduced visiting Rotarian Susie Lindeman from the Chapala, Jalisco, Mexico Rotary Club and her friend Sadie Valverde from Las Cruces.  She also introduced visiting Rotarians Buffy Johnson and James Dolan from the Rio Grande Club.  President Lya introduced Elaine Szalay’s guest Silvia Avila and the two returning high school student guests: Ariana Parra from Oñate and Richard LeFevre from Arrowhead.  Sue introduced the new high school student guest August Rannow from Centennial.

There were plenty of happy dollars.  Kristi was happy to remember the Paul and Linda Comeau;  Lya was happy that her knee is healing, however, the doctor said no “table dancing” or mountain climbing for six more weeks;  Blaine noticed that Mary Ellen’s “animal” purse had died and been replaced with an inferior model.  He offered a sad dollar and was fined another since the cost of a sad dollar is actually twice that of a happy dollar;  John was “just mighty glad to be here!”  Gary Brockway has been wearing a different Rotary Theme pin each week for at least two months and just today someone noticed.  Definitely a reason to be happy!  Larry had to take a call from the tax man while he was all “suds-up” in the shower – it was good news!  Jim Maxon proud to be sitting next to our Centennial high school student guest who has been admitted to Westpoint;  Visiting Rotarian Susie happy to be back for a visit to Las Cruces;  James Dolan had 3 happy dollars 1 – enjoying the Rotary lunch at La Posta, 2 – working with Richelle on the “Taste of Las Cruces and 3 – the Habitat for Humanity fund raiser is wrapping up nicely – there are still a few airline raffle tickets left;  Patty also had 3 happy dollars: 1 – proud of our high school student guests, 2 – for John Pickett’s birthday and 3 – for her successful venture into water aerobics.  In return for his generous contribution to the can, Greg was allowed one sick joke: he recalled that the last time he ate an apple, he noticed half a worm.

The Program

Our program coordinator for April, Sue Groth introduced Brandie White of Mesilla Valley CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates for children).  Brandie has been with CASA for 6 years.  She is a member of CASA’s professional staff holding the position of Program Coordinator.  She has a bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Arizona State and is currently working on her master’s degree in Public Administration at NMSU.  Prior to joining CASA Brandie worked in many areas associated with child welfare including juvenile probation and conducting adoption home studies.  At CASA, Brandie is primarily responsible for the supervision and coordination of the advocate training program, which includes recruiting volunteer advocates, interviewing and training advocates, as well as supporting and supervising advocates in their work. She also assists with supervision and leadership of the agency and in resource development through event planning and other fundraising focused activities.

The aim of CASA is: “to make sure children in foster care receive the critical support they need and deserve by providing them with a volunteer advocate, an everyday citizen who champions their best interests and fights for their right to a happy, safe life.”  Court Appointed Special Advocates for children are an element of New Mexico Children’s Law.  There are currently 76 volunteer advocates supporting approximately 150 children in foster care.  Each volunteer receives 30 hours of specialized training and is assigned a foster child or foster children for a significant period of time.  Ms. White had us participate in an exercise to give us a feel for the plight of a foster child.  We had to note on sticky pads five things of great importance to us in five different categories including someone we love dearly.  We were then instructed to crumple each sticky pad and imagine what it would be like to completely lose the thing described and to imagine what it would be like if you did not know when or if you would ever recover it.  This was to give us a clue as to the plight of the child and role of the advocate, to help the child regain these lost things.  She described CASA in detail and her presentation was followed by numerous questions.

After the Program

Patty gave the can report.  We collected $54 for the Club’s school projects.  The pot is up to $163.  Mary Ellen had the winning ticket but only drew a four of diamonds.  Her wonderful gift from the basket entitles her to six additional Rotary raffle tickets.  President Lya closed the meeting with the 4-Way Test.

<prior week   following week>

Guests of Rotarians



Sadie Valverde

Susie Lindeman

Silvia Avila

Elaine Szalay

Visiting Rotarians


Home Club

Susie Lindeman

Chapala, Jalisco, Mexico

James Dolan

Rio Grande

Buffy Johnson

Rio Grande

Student Guests



Ariana Parra


Richard LeFevre


August Rannow









Submitted by Jay JordanJay Jordan