By Molly • Molly Walker • 

Transplanted Texan takes reins at CASA

A trip west took her to Bend, Eugene and Carlton, where she stopped at the Carlton Inn. And during her local stay, she discovered McMinnville.

She liked the community so much, she went back and promptly put her Texas home up for sale. Although the timing seemed bad, Shipley had two offers in one week, so was able to move quickly.

Shipley thought she was cut out for small town living, and she was.

“I really love McMinnville,” she said. “I bought a house right away.”

In her effort to learn more about her new home, Shipley started volunteering with two programs, ASPIRE (Access  to Student assistance Programs In Reach of Everyone) and CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates). That first led her to become coordinator at ASPIRE and later as director at CASA.

In the latter post, she replaces Amy Bissonnette, who stepped down in February after nearly five years at the helm.

The director plays a much different role than the volunteer advocates, but Shipley is looking forward to the challenge.

“It’s really important work,” she said. “Kids are so vulnerable. Studies have shown that with the right intervention, children are resilient.”

Currently, CASA has 50 volunteers averaging 15 hours a month of service apiece.

“It’s not just playing with kids,” she said. “It’s serious stuff.”

CASAs work for the best interest of the child, which includes making court reports, going to schools and taking on other tasks. “It’s hard work and emotionally challenging,” she said.

“We’re working to increase the number of kids we serve,” Shipley said. Currently, cases have to be prioritized.

Only about half of all eligible children have a CASA to help. Most volunteers handle at least two cases at a time, and that can involve three to five children.

Nationally, Shipley said, the organization is working to have a CASA for every child who needs one by 2020, and she has adopted the same goal locally. “It’s a smart investment,” she said.

It runs about $90 a month to provide a child with CASA services. On average, they end up spending about six months less time in foster care — a big payoff.

The organization serves children from birth to age 18. Volunteers go through about 36 hours of intensive training.

Nine new volunteers were trained in January. Another session will be offered this fall, and it can be partly completed online, adding an element of flexibility for those juggling work commitments.

Those who are interested in learning more about the program can stop by at 1945 N.E. Baker St., call 503-434-6668 or e-mail 

Shipley’s family includes three adult daughters. One teaches with Head Start in McMinnville, and the others are located in Sydney, Australia, and Chamonix, France.

She has a 9-month-old grandson in France and is anticipating the arrival of a new grandchild in Sydney in the fall. In addition to her new role as CASA director, she plans on continuing with ASPIRE. 


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