Pirate Party to benefit Lower Shore CASA org.

Pirate Party to benefit Lower Shore CASA org.

(May 30, 2014) After bad weather postponed the event on May 16, the sixth annual Pirate Party to benefit Lower Shore Court Appointed Special Advocates, or CASA, should see smooth sailing tonight.

Byron and Laura Arenella are dressed for the high seas during the pirate-themed fundraiser for Worcester Youth and Family Counseling Services at Sunset Grille last year. This year’s Pirate Party takes place next today, May 30, at the same spot.

Festivities start at 5 p.m. at Sunset Grille in West Ocean City, where CASA volunteers will don pirate costumes and sell golden treasure bars that give buyers a chance to win gift certificates, paintings and other prizes.

There will be a silent auction for golf packages, Ayers Creek kayaking packages, original artwork from Patrick Henry and more; a 50/50 raffle; live music; and light fare and happy hour prices until 7 p.m., said CASA Director Brigitte Southworth.

“It’s our biggest (fundraiser),” Southworth said of the annual event that draws volunteers and guests alike out in pirate-themed costumes. Last year, around 370 attended the Pirate Party and raised more than $16,000 to help recruit and train the CASA volunteers who advocate for children in court, she said.

“We have more pirates than we’ve ever had, we have more sponsors than we’ve ever had. We’re getting more people,” Southworth said.

CASA is funded by a matching grant each year, “so in order to get the money, we have to raise the money,” she said.

The program started in Worcester County in 2002 and has helped all but two children who went through the courts until recently, when many more entered the system, Southworth said. In all, CASA served 66 youth last year and “this year, it’s going to be more.”

Volunteers undergo intensive interviews and screening before their training to work with abused or neglected youth making their way through the courts. They are fingerprinted and must be cleared by Social Services before taking the 35-hour course that includes court observation and the national CASA curriculum, Southworth said.

To help the volunteer-based program, which is run out of the Worcester Youth & Family Counseling Services in Berlin, meet its goal of providing advocates for every youth in the county court system, the volunteer pirates are also hosting their own fundraisers this year, Southworth said.

“Our goal is to serve every child that’s in the court system in Worcester County,” she said.

CASA asks attendees to give a $15 donation at the door for entry into the Pirate Party, which runs from 5-8 p.m. today, May 30. The “golden treasure” candy bars cost $5 each, or $20 for five and one out of every four or five bars holds a prize, Southworth said.

Visit www.gowoyo.org or www.facebook.com/WYFCS to learn more about Worcester Youth & Family Counseling Services and Lower Shore CASA.

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