News From Terre Haute, Indiana

April 25, 2013

Wabash Valley children’s groups merge

CHANCES, Community Alliance become Chances and Services for Youth

Lisa Trigg
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — No rice was thrown to congratulate the happy couple, but Wednesday’s merger of two youth organizations was blessed as “holy matrimony.”

The “dearly beloved” gathered at the Booker T. Washington Community Center saw the blending of CHANCES for Indiana Youth and the Community Alliance and Services for Young Children.

Now known as Chances and Services for Youth, or CASY, the blended agency will provide programs and services for youth ages birth through college in an 11-county area. Some of those programs include Big Brothers Big Sisters, Child Care Food Program, Safe Kids, Teen Court, and Tobacco Prevention and Cessation.

“This merger means more opportunities for children and their families,” said Dawn Craft, president of the board for CASY. “This merger will help ensure the bright future for our children in the Wabash Valley.”

Karen Harding is the chief executive officer of the organization. Brandon Halleck is the chief operating officer.

“Between our two organizations we have a great staff who will now be one team to continue to work to maximize the impact of our programs,” Harding said.

CASY has an annual budget of more than $3 million, with 32 full-time staff and more than 90 volunteers.

Halleck said that when the two organizations moved into the community center in 2008, they began working together in a complimentary fashion that led to the merger. It was a long process to review each organization’s strengths and weaknesses and to discuss strategies for the future, he said.

Troy Fears, executive director of the United Way of the Wabash Valley, confirmed that both organizations are financially healthy, and that combining their resources is strategically smart. Fears actually “blessed” the announcement as a “marriage” of the agencies.

“”These two organizations are both health and have considered the merger proactively as a way to strengthen their effectiveness and efficiency, spread best practices, expand their reach and to do all of this more cost-effectively, making best use of scarce resources,” Fears said.

Harding said the new organization is already looking at new funding opportunities through grants to potentially add programs to benefit youth in the Wabash Valley. CASY will continue to serve Clay, Greene, Johnson Montgomery, Morgan, Owen, Parke, Putnam, Sullivan, Vermillion and Vigo counties. Those are the counties served in the past by both organizations.

The programs and services offered by CASY are:

• Big Brothers Big Sisters of Vigo County, which provides one-to-one relationships between youth and caring adults.

• The Booker T. Washington Community Center, which is managed by CASY. It houses the offices for CASY, the Minority Health Coalition, and the City of Terre Haute Human Relations Commission.

• The Child and Adult Care Food Program, which provides nutritious meals to children in child care.

• The Child Development Fund, providing financial assistance vouchers for child care.

• Child Care Resource and Referral, which helps families locate and evaluate child care programs.

• Communities that Care-Johnson County, which identifies problems that contribute to substance abuse and mental health.

• SADD – Students Against Destructive Decisions – at local high schools.

• Safe Kids Vigo County, with free car seat installation clinics, bicycle safety training, fire and burn safety/prevention, pedestrian safety and firearm safety.

• The School’s Out Club after school and summer camp program, and Camp Rave summer camp.

• Strengthening Families, targeting families with youth ages 10 to 14.

• Teen Court, for first-time juvenile offenders to turn a mistake into a positive experience.

• Tobacco Prevention and Cessation, intended to prevent youth from tobacco use and to reduce adult smoking rates.

For more information about CASY, go online to www.casyonline.org or call 812-232-3952.