SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – One nonprofit in the Ozarks is raising millions of dollars to help foster kids in need.

CASA of Southwest Missouri is launching a $2.7 million capital campaign to buy two buildings from the Council of Churches of the Ozarks at the end of August. The buildings are located on Glenstone and Chestnut in Springfield. CASA plans to turn one building into their new headquarters, and the other space into a children’s clubhouse.

Stephanie Jenkins, a CASA volunteer, tells OzarksFirst the clubhouse will allow the nonprofit to help more than 100 foster kids who need an advocate.

“It just gives us so many more options,” Jenkins said. “Whether it’s providing a safe place for our kid to do a visit with their biological family where the barriers can be taken down, or it’s us visiting with them. It’s going to allow them to play with toys, games, just relax and chill out for a while. [At the same time,] their case manager can make some phone calls and look for a placement for them. [The kids are] not going to have to hear, ‘Oh I’m sorry we can’t right now. I’m sorry we can’t right now.’ It eliminates some of the rejection from their life which is a great thing.”

The buildings will give CASA volunteers a private space to talk with their foster kid. Jenkins tells OzarksFirst that privacy has been a challenge for volunteers since the pandemic began.

“Libraries you have to be quiet there,” Jenkins said. “That’s what they expect. Laughing out loud and enjoying each other’s company is not always the thing to do. When you look at a fast food restaurant with an indoor playplace, it’s overstimulating for me as an adult sometimes.”

Executive Director Laura Farmer says the new headquarters will have a training center for volunteers. CASA’s current space doesn’t have room for more staff members, which limits how many volunteers are able to help.

“We really need our permanent headquarters so that we can continue to add staff members to reach our goal of serving 100% of our children in foster care by 2030,” Farmer said. “As we receive new funding and we can add new staff members, we’ll be able to serve those kids if we have the space and the capacity in order to do that.”

Farmer tells OzarksFirst that CASA’s campaign is meaningful to the community, and children in need.

“A lot of times our children in foster care feel like they’ve been forgotten about, or that nobody really knows about them,” Farmer said. “With these buildings we’re going to be able to solidify that our community cares about our kids, we know who they are and we want to be there to support them.”

Thanks to donations, the nonprofit has raised $2.1 million already. The group needs $600,000 to meet its goal.

Farmer says if people are interested in donating, they can:

  • Call CASA’s office at (417) 864-6202.
  • Check out the nonprofit’s Facebook page
  • Donate on their website.

Despite all those options, Farmer tells OzarksFirst she’d rather talk to someone about the campaign face-to-face.

“I think it’s more about the storytelling of the impact that this will mean for our community,” Farmer said. “[It’s also about] the thousands of children that we’re going to serve with these buildings that are in foster care.”