“This isn’t a warm and fuzzy story,” began Dick Bell, the Managing Partner of CPA Consulting Group, LLP. “Just like any other person who gets on a non-profit board of directors – I was asked, right?”
And so began Dick Bell’s time as the Treasurer for the Board of Directors for CASA of Natrona County.
CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates and the job of this organization is to quite literally, give a voice to children.
CASA, per its website, “was started in Seattle, Washington in 1977 when a juvenile court judge expressed concern that the courts were deciding the fate of children removed from their homes without having sufficient information. Since that time, the CASA program has expanded into a network of more than 955 CASA programs in 49 states.”
Wyoming is one of those states and for several years, CASA advocates have spoken for children who couldn’t, or wouldn’t, speak for themselves. Whether due to trauma, nerves, or something else entirely, there are many instances of children not being able to advocate for themselves in a courtroom. That’s where CASA comes in.
“The CASA concept is based on the commitment that every child has the right to a safe, permanent home,” the website continued. “In court jurisdictions that have adopted this philosophy, the juvenile or family court judge turns to a specially trained pool of CASA volunteers each time a case involving an abused child is received. The volunteer then becomes an official part of the judicial proceedings, working alongside the guardian ad litems and social workers as an appointed office of the court and as a voice for that child. The CASA volunteers speak exclusively for the child’s best interests.”
When Bell was approached with the offer to serve on the board, he didn’t think twice about it.
“What drew me into it, why I decided to do this, was because of the mission of CASA – to provide a voice to these children who go through hellacious abuse and neglect and have no voice in the court system,” Bell said. “The volunteer advocates are providing a voice for those children. So, to me, it was about being on a non-profit board that worked for children. And that’s why I decided to join CASA when I was asked.”
Bell is one of multiple CPA’s from CPA Consulting Group that volunteers his time and energy for community organizations. It’s not something that’s ever been mandatory, but much of the staff at CPA Consulting Group choose to invest their time into something that is bigger than them. For Bell, CASA was the perfect organization to serve on, due to his own feelings about children.
“I’ve always loved kids,” Bell said. “I’ve got four of them myself. And I’ve always tried to support youth organizations, like sports and buying raffle tickets, or making sure someone can go to a soccer camp in the summer or a dance class on the east coast. Whenever I see a kid that is asking for help, I try to help if I possibly can. So the fact that CASA is here for these children; that’s something that appealed to me and it’s why I decided to serve on the board.”
Bell doesn’t just attend the meetings, sit in his seat, and drink coffee, however. Much like with his career, he takes this job seriously.
The board of directors for CASA is the overall fiduciary oversight of the entire organization and it provides the general oversight of CASA’s executive director and employees. As the treasurer, Bell is responsible for all of CASA’s finances.
“I deal with the monthly financials that are presented to the board, help them create the annual budget, and handle the other fiscal responsibilities that are associated with CASA,” he said.
Bell stated that the biggest expenditures for CASA are, unsurprisingly, the costs associated with retaining staff. While the advocates of CASA are volunteers, the organization does still have a small team of employees that ensure advocates are a good match, that court dates are met, and more.
It’s not an easy job, but it’s one that Bell revels in. It is, of course, right within his wheelhouse. As one of the partners of CPA Consulting Group, Bell immerses himself in others’ financials. With this position, he gets to lend his expertise to a nonprofit that lives and dies by the money it raises.
One of the biggest ways CASA raises money is via its annual Red Wagon Gala Event, which takes place every April.
“That’s a great way to help CASA out,” Bell revealed. “You can purchase a table and come and sit, eat and drink, and there are auctions with paddle raisers and things like that. It’s a great time for all involved and it’s the biggest fundraiser we have. We also push for donations around the holiday season. Donations are always welcome, though. I know there are some people who donate and want to know specifically what their money is going to. We call them scholarship funds and essentially it’s money that people donate for books, clothing, school supplies, and hygiene products that we give to the kiddos that are being represented by CASA.”
Bell said that people can donate at any time, and every dollar counts. He is proud to serve on the Board of Directors for CASA and he is proud to work for a company that encourages community service.
“We are blessed to be involved in the community of Casper,” he stated. “We’ve got a good organization here that supports us as employees and our families. But there are folks that aren’t as fortunate. And so, if we can give our time and effort to support others, we strive to do that. That’s always been a focus at CPA Consulting Group – doing anything we can to support the community in Natrona County.”
CPA Consulting Group is an incredible resource for Natrona County, as is CASA. Not every city has a place that works so hard to protect its community’s children. But CASA does just that.
“These children have suffered unimaginable neglect and abuse at times,” Bell said. “So the fact that CASA can provide some support and a voice to these children in their greatest time of need, I think it’s critically important. And there have been plenty of testimonies from children who were represented by CASA and have now grown up, and they’ve talked about how much CASA helped them in their greatest time of need. So I think any time you can help out a child that’s suffering like that, it’s well worth it.”
Dick Bell, and the rest of the CPA Consulting Group team, understand how important it is to give back to the community of which they are a part. But for Bell, personally, this is more than just a chance to serve his community. It’s a chance to help, in the best way he knows how, children in Natrona County who are hurting. It’s a chance to use the skills that he has to protect this community’s children. It’s a chance to take care of them.
So, maybe this is a little bit of a fuzzy story afterall.