Eighth annual Light of Hope breakfast honors Mitch Craft

(Sheridan, Wyo.) — Over 130 people RSVP'd for the Eighth annual Light of Hope breakfast this morning, and even more came—making the annual, ceremonial gathering around Sheridan's children a huge success. Sheridan Junior High School Principal Mitch Craft was honored as the 2016 Champion for Children at the event, hosted by Child Advocacy Services of the Bighorns. "It is pretty clear that Sheridan is a special place," Craft said this morning. "We can say that, just because we live here, but it is actually true. I talk with educators from around the state, and what we have going on in this community is not normal—in a good way." Guest speaker Wyoming Supreme Court Chief Justice James Burke agreed that Sheridan is a special place, both geographically, and in its people. "We've got great scenery ... but there is an energy, a vibration I feel every time I come to Sheridan," Burke said. Of the many agencies' efforts to work together for Sheridan's children, "very few communities pull that (partnership) off," Burke said. In 2015, CASA matched 150 children from Sheridan and Johnson counties with volunteers, and there are still 14 children waiting to be matched, Susan Carr, Executive Director for CASA, said. And so, local donors, fundraising campaigns and volunteer efforts are crucial for the organization. CASA has grown in its years since becoming the first program of its kind in Wyoming—so much so that it is time for a new name, Carr said. That name is COMPASS. "Over our 25 years, many strengths were formed, and many challenges were faced," she said. "The road was not always easy for us. ... But we find ourselves stronger and more capable than ever." "We no longer just advocate for children in our community," Carr said. "We provide education programs, we provide mediation programs, we provide parent education and outreach. ... (CASA) really didn't define who we were anymore." "After a lot of thought, we have taken on a new name. Our name is now COMPASS," Carr said. COMPASS was chosen for one reason: It serves as a beacon to lead children "home," to that safe place. "Home is supposed to be a safe place. Our goal as an agency is to make sure every child and every family in the Fourth Judicial District has a safe home they can return to," Carr said. For more information on CASA/COMPASS, click here. [image: Inline image 2] *Sheridan Junior High School Principal Mitch Craft addresses the crowd. / Pitchengine Communities* [image: Inline image 1] *Wyoming Community Foundation donates $15,000 to CASA, now COMPASS, this morning. / Pitchengine Communities* [image: Inline image 3] *CASA will be rebranded with a new name, COMPASS, announced this morning. / Pitchengine Communities* *Feature photo: Susan Carr addresses the crowd. Around her sit 2016 Champion for Children Mitch Craft and special guest Wyoming Supreme Court