By Leo and Karen Lewis
This article appeared in Union Jack, September 15, 2015.
ONE OF, if not the most important reasons Karen and I write the column for the UJ, is to be able to bring attention to Brits to be proud of, worthy of knowing. Jeremy Davies OBE falls into and excels in this category, not only an exceptionally nice man to know but a leader with outstanding abilities to get things done!
We’ve met Jeremy a few times, most recently at the BritWeek reception. His story goes back to 2011 when Bruce Herron, the then President of Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASALA) founded in 1977 by Seattle Superior Court Judge David Souke, who recognized the need to help foster children. Bruce approached his good friend Jeremy to ask whether he could help CASA in connecting with companies and organizations to raise funds for CASA. Jeremy knew Bruce through another charity to which he donates, Harbor Interfaith Services in San Francisco which supports the homeless and working poor.
What gave rise to the request was that the unexpected consequences of budget cuts resulted in CASA losing its Federal, State and County funding, including losing 14 employees previously provided by the County. At that time CASA was providing volunteers to support about 600 of the 30,000 children that have been removed from their parents by the Dependency Court, the largest population of foster children in any County in the US.
Jeremy told us, “When I was approached by Bruce I told him that because of my having been former President and Chairman of the BABC both locally and nationally, being a member of the Board of Governors of the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation, being Senior Advisor to the VerdeXchange Institute and a retired senior Partner of PwC that I felt I could use my contacts to help outreach to the business community.” CASA had been publically funded and so had developed no outreach strategy to corporate America.
Jeremy explains that CASA had to convert to a fully private 501c3 charity and despite the challenges, now serves some 900 children and supports another 6,000 in their initial court appearance. “Our organization is unique in that our volunteers are approved and appointed by the Dependency Court, and are the ears and eyes for the Judges who often have to make extremely difficult decisions in the interest of the child. A CASA has one objective, looking after the best interests of the foster child to provide a safe environment, wellness and ultimately a permanent stable situation. We work with in collaboration with many service providers to the children including DCFS.
Utilizing his expansive business network, Jeremy has helped to develop a corporate outreach program for CASA, which has resulted in a number of new corporate supporters and board members. He also arranged for CASA/LA to be the beneficiary of the 2013 LA Auto Show’s charity preview night and serves on the Committee for the Evening to Foster Dreams Annual Gala, which has helped raise CASA’s profile within the community as well as raising millions in much needed funding. Their last Annual GALA in May had Jay Leno as host, (he has committed to be host next year as well. Some 850 people from business, the entertainment industry, the political leadership, and other LA leaders were present at the Beverly Hilton Hotel
Jeremy told us: “During my time over the past few years working with the organization, the challenges facing CASA have become apparent. One of the primary needs remains to market CASA’s cause and needs to the corporate world. These children face horrible circumstances, and what amounts to a small gift for a large corporate entity can provide life-changing funding that helps CASA advocates provide guidance and help.”
I’d like to bring more help from our community, not only by engaging British leaders in business but also to enlist more volunteers,” continued Davies. “While we maintain a very healthy identity and keep our roots intact, we still need to embrace the issues that face adopted home, and this is one of the most vital.
LA hosts the highest number of foster youth in the entire country, over 28,000 kids.
For those interested in volunteering with CASA of LA, more information can be found atwww.casala.org. For businesses that would be interested in discussing ways to support CASA programs, or in the Evening to Foster Dreams Gala event, Mr Davies can be reach email@example.com Jeremy Davies received an OBE for Services to British business interest in the USA from Prince Charles in 2014.
Our thanks to Gillian Campbell who reminded us to give Jeremy the recognition he so richly deserves, and her help in the research.