Monthly Archives: October 2015
Tom Turner, Grandpoint Bank’s Senior Vice President – Special Assets Manager, still remembers the smell of MacLaren Hall, the child protection institution where he was housed for part of his time in the Los Angeles County foster care system. After six decades in operation, MacLaren Hall closed in 2003, but Tom’s memory of it reflects the stress experienced by children who are removed from their homes and brought to an unfamiliar place. For Tom, it’s something he’ll never forget.
Tom has always been a go-getter, so he put himself through college by serving in the Army for three years and then using the GI Bill to fund his education. From there, he went on to build a rewarding career in banking.
That determination has carried over into other parts of his life too. Just as he’s a go-getter in his career, Tom’s not content to sit by and rely on others to make a difference for those in need. Tom saw the chance to step up and help children in the Los Angeles County foster care system; children to whom he can relate. He found that opportunity through CASA of Los Angeles, which stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates.
Volunteers with CASA of Los Angeles advocate for safety, permanency and well-being for abused and neglected children. A CASA volunteer is often the sole consistent adult anchor for foster children. According to KidsData.org, more than 20,000 children are currently in foster care in Los Angeles County.
Tom and his wife’s first involvement with CASA was through the organization’s Glamour Gowns and Suit Up event, which has garnered national coverage, thanks to CNN. Each year, hundreds of children in foster care and group homes in Los Angeles and beyond come to the top floor of the convention center to select dresses, shoes and purses (for the girls) or shoes, belts, socks and suit components (for the boys.) The dresses are donated primarily from nearby film and television studios, and the children can use the formal clothes for proms, special occasions or even interviews. Tom helped with event logistics and his wife Patricia volunteered as a seamstress. Both were at the convention center from early morning until 7:00 at night.
Tom wanted to give more of his time and efforts, though, and so that’s what he set about doing. After a half dozen formal interviews and phone calls, as well as a thorough background check, he was invited to join the board of CASA of Los Angeles for a three-year term. In addition to serving as a board member, Tom is part of CASA’s finance committee, advising CASA about financial projections, budgets and more. He’s also an important example to the children who CASA serves.
“I want to give kids the confidence that they can do it, because I did it,” said Tom. “And, if there’s one thing I want potential CASA volunteers to know, it’s that most of these kids are in the foster system through no fault of their own and that their hearts are pure – pure, but in need of protecting.”
Tom is quick to sing the praises of CASA and its staff and volunteers. He’s happy to talk to anyone who wants to know more about how to help foster kids. CASA of Los Angeles is always looking for more advocates and volunteers. It also provides opportunities to sponsor and support events, as Grandpoint Bank has done, or to donate money directly to the nonprofit organization. Contact Tom at Grandpoint Bank’s headquarters office or visit the CASA of Los Angeles website to find out more.
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