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updated: 1/25/2013 3:59 PM

Kane County CASA breaks $1 million mark for endowment

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CASA Kane County recently concluded a two-year endowment campaign, raising and securing $1.2 million to help fund and train court-appointed special advocates for abused and neglected children.

Officials had hoped to hit $1 million in donations, which would have meant they got the maximum out of a grant from the Aurora-based Dunham Fund, which pledged 40 cents for every $1 raised up to $1 million, along with a $100,000 grant, for a possible total of $1.5 million.

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CASA Executive Director Gloria Bunce said the group raised $750,000, which translated to a $300,000 match and a $400,000 overall grant from the fund.

"An endowment is forever. What this has done is it's going to give us stability of building an endowment that will be sustainable and will continue to grow," Bunce said. "Even though we are appointed by the court, we are not funded by the court."

One highlight of CASA's efforts was the creation of a healing garden on the west side of the Third Street Courthouse in Geneva. The garden, built through in-kind donations of materials and labor, offers a quiet space for courthouse personnel and residents. Bricks, pavers and benches are still available for purchase and donations are tax deductible. For more information, visit casakanecounty.org.

"CASA Kane County volunteers fight for the most innocent and vulnerable children in society. CASA modestly refers to their volunteers as 'ordinary people doing extraordinary things.' The Dunham Fund is humbled by CASA and its volunteers' dedication," said Michael Morcos, chairman of the Dunham Fund Board of Advisors.

The largest CASA fundraiser for this year is the annual gala, set for March 2 to celebrate the group's 25th anniversary.

Bunce said officials hope 560 people will attend -- one for each of the 560 children CASA was assigned to last year. Five hundred are expected so far.

"Our message is something everyone can get their arms around and embrace," Bunce said. "(Child abuse) happens in your backyard. It happens next door."

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