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Blend 2017: Fall Edition

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Mobberly Baptist Church

625 East Loop 281

Longview, TX 75605

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Keynote Presenter: Ashley Rhodes-Courter, Author Three Little Words

Ashley Rhodes-Courter, MSW is the quintessential American success story. Born to a single teen mother, by the age of 3 Ashley was in Florida’s foster care system where she spent almost ten years being shuttled between 14 homes—some quite abusive—before being adopted from a Children’s Home at the age of twelve.

Despite her ordeal, she excelled in school because she believed that, “my education was the one thing nobody could take from me.” Early in her life she felt compelled to advocate for herself and the other children she lived with, particularly in the abusive foster homes.

Her efforts and academic achievements landed her Eckerd College’s Trustee Scholarship—the school’s most prestigious full-tuition award. She graduated with honors and ahead of schedule earning a double major in Communications and Theater and a double minor in Political Science and Psychology. Ashley then went on to earn a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Southern California.

During her undergraduate studies, she was one of 20 college students selected for the USA Today All-USA Academic Team and was named one of GLAMOUR Magazine’s Top Ten College Women. Ashley was also chosen as one of the four Golden BR!CK Award winners for outstanding advocacy for community change by the national organization, Do Something. As part of their campaign, she was featured on 25 million bags of Cool Ranch Doritos. Her accomplishments advocating for children and families won her the Youth Advocate of the Year for the North American Council on Adoptable Children, the Kids to Kids National Service Award from the Child Welfare League of America, and two Angels in Adoption Awards from the Congressional Coalition on Adoption.

Presenter: Jennifer McCallum & Shannon Cerise

Nurture Group workshop

Presenter: Matthew Barr, East Texas CASA

East Texas CASA is part of a national volunteer movement that began in 1977 when Judge David Soukup in Seattle decided he needed to know more about the children whose lives were in his hands. His solution was to ask community volunteers to act as a “voice in court” for abused and neglected children. These Court Appointed Special Advocate® (CASAs) provided him with the detailed information he needed to safeguard the children’s best interests and ensure that they were placed in safe, permanent homes as quickly as possible. The program was so successful that it was copied around the nation.

Along with Matthew, East Texas CASA has continued to serve abused and neglected children in Gregg, Rusk and Upshur Counties since 1992 by providing trained community volunteers for every child who was assigned to the program through the court.

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Mobberly Baptist Church

625 East Loop 281

Longview, TX 75605

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