As a teenager, Ashley overcame a challenging homelife with a troubled mother. Her needs neglected, Ashley immersed herself in schoolwork and extracurricular activities to escape. Eventually placed in foster care, Ashley’s commitment to her education became her path to permanency. Although cognizant that her positive foster care experience and kinship placement nurtured her growth, Ashley spoke to how one person – her High School English Teacher Mrs. Headley – profoundly impacted her potential and future. Ashley correlated the actions of Mrs. Headley with those provided by CASA volunteers, and noted that all in attendance had the opportunity to provide hope and encouragement to foster youth. "Listen, give advice, and be there for young people,” says Jackson, "these are small but important ways that Mrs. Headley changed my life."
A child’s story was also shared by Joanne Denton and Kelly Kruas. In 2006, Joanne served as 4-month old Zackary’s CASA advocate. In this role, she was protective of Zackary and consistent in speaking for his best interests. Today, she remains close with Kelly, Zackary’s adoptive mother. Their shared message, and captured home video of Zackary, touched the audience and encouraged many to consider joining the agency as a CASA volunteer. Christa Dubill of NBC Action News returned as emcee for the Promise of Hope Luncheon and also shared important points, most notably the rapid increase of child abuse rates in the community. Maggie Bessenbacher, CASA Board President, and Executive Director Lois Rice also spoke to those in attendance and asked for continued and increased support for the CASA mission.