LIVINGSTON, TX (KTRE) - If you take a walk down the halls of CASA of the Pines, you're sure to pass these walls filled with years of rich history. Walls that if able to speak, would certainly have a unique story to tell.
A reality Virginia Hughes knows all too well.
"Born here in 1948," Hughes said.
Born here, not just in Livingston, but in this very building that years ago was the county's hospital.
"It was a little bit awestruck when I walked in to see how it's transformed. We have a lot of the county offices here now," Hughes said.
Transformed now into the home for CASA of the Pines serving Polk County. CASA or Court Appointed Special Advocates are stationed in 72 offices statewide serving as a voice for abused and neglected children.
And it's a service records show is needed now more than years past.
"Unfortunately in all three counties that we serve we've had a huge influx of cases. For example, six, six and half years ago when I began working for CASA, we had about 85 cases for all three counties," said Natalie Thornton, who works with CASA.
That number now nearly doubled at over 160 cases with about 40 of those specific to Polk County.
"It's very challenging, but we have great staff and actually our advocate base has doubled. So we have a lot of people in the communities in all three counties who've stepped up to provide CASA services to these children," Thornton said.
The group, which also celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, says they can only hope for a future where their services are no longer needed.
"Unfortunately child abuse is going to be something we're going to have a problem with in our society. Drug use is on the rise, methamphetamine in particular and so it's great that we have the CASA program because these kids need all the help and support that they can get," Thornton said.
If you're interested in becoming a CASA volunteer, contact the group at (936) 634-6725 or visit www.casapines.org.