The 5 Q's: Debi Koelkebeck details upcoming breakfast fundraiser for Jasper County CASA

Nov. 20—In this weekly feature, we put five questions before someone in the community. Today, we chat with Debi Koelkebeck of Jasper County CASA.

1. What is the mission of Jasper County CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), and what are the primary responsibilities of a CASA volunteer?

Jasper County CASA is a nonprofit, private organization dedicated to recruiting, training and supporting volunteers who advocate for children in Jasper County who have experienced abuse or neglect.

Our mission is to train and support volunteers who advocate for children who are in foster care due to abuse and neglect. A Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) is a regular citizen who is specially trained and appointed by the Juvenile Court judge to represent a child who has experienced neglect and/or abuse.

The most important aspect of volunteering with CASA is remaining a solid part of the child's life throughout their case. The goal is always to find the best permanent home for the child, but the time spent during the case is a maze of complexities, making your steady involvement vital.

Our volunteers see their kids at least twice monthly and become a consistent and trusted adult in the child's life during their time in foster care. Children with a Court Appointed Special Advocate by their side spend an average of one year less in the foster care system than those without.

We go to school and sports events for the kids, we make sure they are getting the services they need and we write a report to the judge in the case with our findings and recommendations for the child's safety and future.

2. What is Jasper County CASA's next fundraiser?

Our next event will be from 8 to 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 3, at the Elks Club Joplin, 1802 W. 26th St. The Elks Club members generously provide the meal as a way for us to raise awareness of the need for volunteers, and to raise funds to support our mission. Our very first fundraiser when we started in 2019 was hosted by the Elks Club, and they are a special partner to us.

3. How much does a breakfast meal cost at the fundraiser?

The cost is $8 per person and includes an egg-and-sausage breakfast casserole, fruit bowl, biscuits and gravy and your choice of drink. It's a great value.

4. What is your goal for the fundraiser?

My goal for the event would be to have up to 250 people attend, and for our staff and board to be able to connect with anyone interested in learning more about our mission and becoming a volunteer.

5. If I miss the fundraiser, how can I donate to Jasper County CASA or be a volunteer?

We have a link on our website for online donations at

You can also visit our Facebook page, JasCo CASA, for online donations and to get more information on becoming a volunteer, or call our office at 417-680-3250.

We have two volunteer information sessions planned — Nov. 29 in Carthage and Dec. 14 in Joplin. We meet at a coffee shop and talk about what it means to be a Court Appointed Special Advocate. We have a class starting in January and need volunteers, and we would like to talk to anyone who wants to learn more about our program.

To learn more about becoming a volunteer, visit

Debi Koelkebeck is the executive director of Jasper County CASA.