sponsored by Grand Rapids Community Foundation
Volunteer Spotlight: Antoinette Knape
Court Appointed Special Advocate
When Antoinette Knape’s youngest child went off to college, she looked for an opportunity that would allow her to make a difference in the community. She became a volunteer with CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) of Kent County; an indispensable resource for the children she serves.
Whether it’s advocating at school, medical appointments or in the foster homes, Knape is there to support the three boys she has been working with for the past year. She makes sure the judge knows what is working for them and what services they need. She’s a stable, caring presence in the boys’ lives when they have had little stability and many questions.
“When you are empowered with that court order in your hand, people listen,” Knape said. “Being a Court Appointed Special Advocate for these children has brought me pure joy. Seeing how you can change the direction of a child’s life in such a positive way is amazing.”
Knape spends 10-15 hours per monthly with her three CASA children, as well as attending meetings, court proceedings and writing reports for the judge. Knape will stay with the children appointed to her until they are in safe, loving homes.
Local Volunteer Opportunities
Your opportunity awaits. Pick a role and react voluntarily.
Do you whip up a mean batch of cookies? Take your talents to the Ronald McDonald House of West Michigan and volunteer to bake tasty treats for families in the community. Bake your goodies right in the Ronald McDonald House kitchen or do it at home and drop them off during regular operation hours. For baking guidelines, visit rmhwesternmichigan.org/meals-and-cookies.
Take Action: Contact Renee Davis, operations coordinator, at email@example.com or by phone at (616) 258-5726.
The Computer Wiz
Family Futures in Grand Rapids is looking for a few detail-oriented volunteers who are comfortable with computers to assist the Connections and Healthy Start programs. Channel your tech skills and help enter data into the system to keep the program organized.
Take Action: Complete the volunteer application online at familyfutures.net/join-us/volunteer or call (616) 454-4673.
Help foster children escape issues of abuse and neglect by volunteering at Kent County CASA. After you complete a CASA training course, you’ll be appointed to a foster case to help gather information and identify the child’s needs to aid the judge in making the best decisions to guide the child out of the foster care system and into a loving home.
Take Action:: Read and complete the volunteer application at casakentco.org/volunteer and take it to Kent Country CASA any time during regular hours at 180 Ottawa NW Suite 5200 in Grand Rapids.
The Sleigh Driver
The Santa Claus Girls organization is bringing Christmas joy to the children of Kent County this holiday season and are looking for volunteers to drive the van. Help deliver gifts and warm winter necessities to children in need.
Take Action:: To be a driver, call the driver line at (616) 957-7342 or email the organization at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The One Night Hand
Help set up activities, supervise craft projects and serve refreshments at the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum for their New Year’s Early Eve Party on December 31. The deadline for all volunteer applications is December 22.
Take Action: Complete the volunteer application at grcm.org/volunteer or contact Juli Atherton, volunteer coordinator, at (616) 235-4726.
The Smooth Operator
Take visitors on an interactive trip through space by volunteering at the current exhibition SPACE: A Journey to Our Future at the Gerald R. Ford Museum. Volunteers can take shifts operating the ride and supervising the riders.
Take Action: Contact Kristen Moony, public affairs specialist, at (616) 254-0374.
The Home Decorator
Transitioning out of a shelter and into a home is an exciting time for families. Team up with Family Promise and supply holiday decorations to help these families celebrate. For a complete list of items, visit familypromisegr.org/volunteer.
Take Action: Begin gathering up donations and drop them off at Family Promise during regular hours at 516 Cherry Street SE in Grand Rapids.