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CASA, short for Court Appointed Special Advocates, works toward as noble a cause as you can find. Founded in 1989, the New Hampshire non-profit recruits, trains and supervises volunteers to advocate for children in the family court system who have experienced abuse or neglect. The organization relies on fundraising events to propel their cause — and on Saturday, March 11, they’re bringing back a barroom favorite.

On Tap for CASA features a full day of competition, fundraising and, of course, drinking, at New England’s Tap House Grille in Hooksett. From noon to 10 p.m., teams of five to 10 battle in a medley of games while holding down their team’s barstool. Games include Rebus puzzles, memory games, trivia, a stein hoisting contest and more, with two bands playing live music throughout the day. According to Erica Thoits, CASA’s director of community relations, the event sprung from the mind of CEO Marty Sink after hearing about a similar event at Patrick’s Pub & Eatery in Gilford. Patrick’s barstool marathon lasts 24 hours; CASA hoped to inspire the same competitive spirit, while lessening the day-long intensity. “We’re focused on fun and raising money, and we want to keep the competition fierce but friendly,” Thoits says. “We want people to have a good time.”

On Tap started in 2017, and saw its most successful year in 2019, raising around $60,000. Poised for a big 2020, COVID-19 had other plans; slated for March, early pandemic lockdowns canceled the event. Three years later, CASA is ready to bring people together and raise money for their virtuous mission once again. While their website states a fundraising goal of $50,000, Thoits explained their real goal is $100,000 — what they hoped to raise in 2020. While it may seem unrealistic for their first year back, Thoits sees no point in not trying. “I’d love to be back where we were in 2019,” Thoits says. “I’d be thrilled if we were above that.”

With teams of up to 10, CASA requires each team to raise at least $1,000 and encourages fundraising throughout the day of the event. Three prizes are handed out at the end of the festivities: top fundraising team, top fundraising individual and team with the most game-accrued points. While CASA hasn’t officially decided on prizes yet, Thoits says they usually award winners a gift basket of goodies.

With such an emphasis on fundraising, CASA puts the money to valiant, vital use. As an overarching goal, CASA aspires to take on every court case brought to them. When a child enters the court system and needs an advocate — also known as a Guardian ad Litem (GAL) — the state is legally required to contact CASA first. If CASA doesn’t have an available advocate, the court turns to a paid GAL instead, who are only required to see a child once during the duration of a case. Thoits explained that CASA puts an emphasis on giving their volunteers ample time to get to know the children they’re working with, only allowing each volunteer to take on one case at a time (or, in rare instances with a veteran volunteer, two cases). Thus, CASA needs as many volunteers as they can get. “That’s the big push,” Thoits says. “It’s a complicated system and it’s not an easy mission.” Thoits explained that recruiting another 150 to 200 volunteers this year would mean that they could take on every case brought to them. Pre-pandemic, they usually hit that goal. Events like On Tap help. 

Sign up for On Tap here, and learn more about becoming a CASA volunteer at CASA is actively recruiting volunteers, and Thoits encourages anyone and everyone to join the organization’s righteous cause.

New Hampshire Magazine is a proud sponsor and participant of On Tap for CASA. If you’d like to donate to our team, We are the Champions, you can do so here.

Categories: Cause of the Month, Things to Do