At its annual industry celebration in June, Jewelers for Children announced that it is renewing its support of abused and neglected children throughout the country with a $500,000 contribution to National CASA. These funds will be awarded to local CASA programs through the Champions for Abused Children grants program. On hand to share with the jewelers what their support means was Andrew Limas, a young man who suffered abuse and lived a life of uncertainty before the intervention of two CASA volunteers. An excerpt of Andrew's speech is below.
My name is Andrew Limas and I would like to tell you what it is like to be the child—the child who is taken away for his own protection.
I’m the oldest of 12 children. I was born into a home with very little love. I grew up believing this was how my life was set out to be. When I was five my mother’s boyfriend snatched me from the top bunk bed and threw me into the corner of the door, where I found myself with a bleeding wound on my forehead.
My mother found me later that night in the hospital. Even though my mom’s boyfriend had threatened me, I told my mom what had happened. The next night we ran away.
Then my mother met a really nice guy who I thought cared about us. But soon he revealed the abusive man hiding inside. During the next seven years, I gained four new sisters and brothers. We came to the attention of child protective services a number of times and were in and out of foster care. When I was eight, my mother’s boyfriend killed my three-month-old brother, and beat my other brother who ended up in a coma. Thank God he recovered! After that, my siblings and I were placed with my grandparents. But this wouldn’t be a forever home for me.
Years later, my mother met a new man and had four more children. After bruises were found all over their bodies, my brothers and sisters were removed from my mother and ultimately placed with family members after months in foster care.
My siblings and I tried to reassemble the pieces of our lives, often without a trusted adult to help us. So I’m very thankful to the judge who appointed us CASA volunteers. Maggie Munoz and Tisha Looker.
At first, I did whatever I could to keep my distance. Up until then, every new person that I invited into my life hurt me, but this time, that wasn't the case! My CASA volunteers are two phenomenal amazing people, who have opened so many doors for me and my brothers and sisters.
Maggie and Tisha attended court on behalf of my siblings and me. They monitored my case to ensure appropriate services were identified and provided whenever necessary. They coordinated a schedule that allowed me to visit my mother on my terms. They have been there to follow up with my various state caseworkers and an attorney to assist with my transition to independent living. When I was selected to appear at the state capitol, it was my CASA volunteers who made sure I was appropriately dressed for the event.
Maggie and Tisha have shown me true unconditional love. They have helped me develop life skills in responsibility to pursue an outstanding future.
I cannot thank the CASA program enough for helping me become who I am today. I am a senior in high school, with a 3.7 GPA, and the student body president of Western High School. I am also the president of the Campus Ministry Bible Club, Worship Leader, member of the Environmental Club Green Warriors and one of the lead singers of a local Christian Band known as The Kingdom of Colors.
Life isn't just about your past or ancestors. It’s about your descendants and your future. Everything I have encountered has given me the grace to tackle whatever the world throws at me. I would not be here today without Maggie, Tisha, and people like you taking a stand and declaring, “I am for the child.” There are 400,000 children who don’t have a CASA volunteer yet. I pray that every one of them will have someone like Maggie and Tisha.
Jewelers for Children (JFC), the industry organization of jewelry retailers, manufacturers, watch companies and trade associations, is the leading private supporter of the National CASA Association and its member programs. Through its Champions for Abused Children Initiative, JFC has contributed $7.4 million since 2003, significantly advancing National CASA's vision of providing a CASA volunteer for every abused and neglected child who needs one. The initiative also provides opportunities for jewelry industry members to volunteer to help children.