SOMERS POINT — Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children of Atlantic and Cape May Counties will welcome special guest speaker New York Times best-selling author Ashley Rhodes-Courter to two special community awareness fundraising events on Wednesday, Oct. 17.

Guests can attend an 8:30 a.m. breakfast at Icona Avalon Resort in Avalon or a 12:30 p.m. lunch at Greate Bay Country Club in Somers Point.

Both events are free to attend, but a reservation is required. Those interested in attending should visit AtlanticCapeCASA.org or call 609-601-7800.

Rhodes-Courter was born in 1985 to a single teen mother. By the age of three she was in Florida’s foster care system where she spent almost 10 years being moved among 14 homes before her adoption at the age of 12. She believed that, “my education was the one thing nobody could take from me,” so she excelled academically and eventually graduated with honors and ahead of schedule from Eckerd College, followed by a master’s degree in social work from the University of Southern California.

By 22, Rhodes-Courter wrote her best-selling book “Three Little Words,” chronicling her life in foster care. Her second book, “Three More Words,” takes the reader beyond foster care into her adult life, her family and the peace that she has made with her past.

Angie Waters, executive director of CASA for Children of Atlantic and Cape May Counties said, “Our goal and mission has been the same since our founding, to facilitate safe, permanent homes for children living in foster care as quickly as possible. I am proud to say that last fiscal year 270 CASA volunteers advocated for 657 children living in foster care in Atlantic and Cape May Counties. Our volunteers also helped 223 children find permanent homes. Since we began, our volunteers have helped facilitate permanent homes for over 1,600 children.

“In our society, the stewardship of a child’s rights rest with the family. Today, too many families are in crisis and too many children lose the stability and care they deserve. Unfortunately, the foster care system is severely overtaxed. In some courts, 10 to 20 cases of children in peril come before a single judge each day. Children may move to several different homes in the span of just a few years, many separated from siblings.

"With every move, these at-risk children lose friendships and fall behind in school. Some never achieve a permanent home. Sadly, they end up navigating the world with little education and few support systems. They often lack even the most basic life skills or even a sense of worth.

“The silver lining in this scenario is the CASA volunteer. That single individual is proven to create a better life for these at-risk children, just as Ashley’s CASA did for her. With that volunteer comes the knowledge that they will fight for their child’s rights and needs until they are in a safe, loving, permanent home.”

Started working with the Press in the Circulation Department in 2006 and moved to Editorial in 2008. Previously worked in Circulation and Advertising at the Asbury Park Press.