Overview of C.A.S.A. Center Against Sexual Assault of Southwest Riverside County
These are our words, not the organization’s. This is in an effort to maintain transparency and avoid bias
The Center Against Sexual Assault of Southwest Riverside County has been in the Valley for more than 35 years. It’s a different organization than it was when it first appeared on the scene as a result of a teacher doing what she could to combat a sexual assault on a student. Victims of crime are still the focal point for the organization, but that mission has widened to include child abuse victims and victims of human trafficking as well as sexual assault survivors. The organization provides assistance programs and counseling to these victims of crime to help them heal, find normalcy again and begin to thrive as individuals and parts of the community. You can find C.A.S.A. on the web at www.swcasa.org
Some insights you may not know about C.A.S.A.
It’s not just about sexual crimes.
The organization works with community partners like the Hemet Valley Hospital and Law Enforcement including Riverside Sheriff’s Department, Hemet PD and San Jacinto LE, area schools, as well as others to combat child abuse, provide much needed education and provide assistance to people who have experienced trauma of all types.
C.A.S.A. has an upcoming community fundraiser
This will cement their spot as part of the premier non-profit organizations in the valley, catering to the Valentine’s season with their appropriately named “Hearts of Gold” Valentine Gala. It’s a Black-tie optional event that highlights love, and offers the best venue in the Valley, amazing food and innovative fundraising options for those who are interested in a formal night out. The interesting part of this Valentine’s fundraiser is that it doesn’t follow the textbook for fundraising events – the options to contribute are fresh and interesting and offer attendees and those who cannot attend. opportunities to get involved to make a difference. The entire proceeds of the event will benefit Child Abuse prevention and victim assistance.
The board is a mixture of both long-term members and newer members.
All of whom have bought wholesale into the vision and mission of the organization and all of whom spend an unbelievable amount of time refining and optimizing the delivery and implementation of the core values, strategic vision and organizational structure.
Historically, the organization has had a very specific day-to day operation.
It operates a much needed and state funded services mix that centers around Victim assistance, education and prevention of Sexual Assault related crimes. That is all slated to remain, but the overall vision and mission of C.A.S.A. has widened to include significant program development to counter the rise of child abuse and to assist in necessary services to help victims of such crimes. Additionally, the organization is one of very few California based non-profits that were awarded major CAL-OES funded Human Trafficking Victim Assistance grant money. It is in a second phase of this grant and has amended organizational goals to deliver on promises in that aspect of the overall operational plan.
The organization has a brain trust and skillset from the Executive Director, to the board members, to the staff employees, that is unmatched in the sector.
For the Valley, the innovation, strategic planning and immense efforts by all players in the organization represents a very robust group of capable people. C.A.S.A. has always been a very progressive and forward-thinking organization. The current leadership and staff have optimized this concept and it helps to push C.A.S.A. towards the type of organization that it intends to be – delivering fully on a lofty mission statement and a spot-on vision.
The new Executive Director is the one person who makes the most sense to be leading the organization.
In addition to being the current E.D. Gayle Hepner is also a former Executive Director for C.A.S.A. Very few individuals would have the organizational understanding; commitment to the cause; and ability to step in to run C.A.S.A. that Gayle has. A stalwart fundraiser and management presence in the Valley for decades, Gayle has begun to bring major changes to C.A.S.A. since her return to the organization, but understands the need to retain the original passion and intent of the organization and not innovate away the roots of the company. She’s aggressive in a good way and so well connected in the area that it’d be hard to find a better face for the organization. Her unbelievable commitment to the vision and mission of the company proves she was a great choice to head the entity in its current state.
What does the future hold for C.A.S.A.?
As progressive an organization as ever, it’s progression isn’t an indication of politics, but rather its forward thinking and innovation.
You wouldn’t blame the company if they focused on marketing, branding & fundraising in the coming months and years. The name is quite long, and it doesn’t indicate the whole portfolio of services the organization offers. The current name is straightforward & tightly focused. Which does mimic the organizations actions as a whole, but doesn’t tell the whole story about what they do.
C.A.S.A. has historically been nearly 100% grant funded. That can cause difficulty in day-to-day operations for a non-profit, as the money it takes to provide services, needs to be spent before it can be reimbursed by a grant fund. It makes sense that the board & management has made strong efforts to reinvent the fundraising campaigns and look at innovative opportunities to raise money and build a thicker padding to their operational funds.
The governmental funding is never going away – even if programs get slashed at the state or federal level, C.A.S.A. provides needed community services and that cannot simply be left to die on the vine.
The landscape of federal and state funding fluctuates. C.A.S.A.’s service needs don’t – they just grow. The impact of population increases and new, more innovative criminals & increasing rates of child abuse and other concerns make this non-profit a stable, necessary entity in the Valley and beyond.
The board has a good mix of mature and new members and all have bought into the innovation that C.A.S.A. plans to bring to the Valley non-profit. Oh yeah and impressive technology innovations too. You’d be wise to keep an eye on the company & watch them evolve this year.