July 10, 2023
Midland Radio donated walkie talkies to help support CASA of North Arkansas.
Midland spoke with Jeepin' 4 CASA event organizers about the impact of walkie talkies on the trails and how it's helping kids in the foster system.
CASA, a volunteer program, helps guide foster children through the legal system.
“CASA- what we do is recruit and train advocates to support children through the foster care system. These advocates are of absolute immeasurable importance to these children in the foster care system. Sometimes children get caught up and lost in the system. They end up staying in the foster care system for a long time and because of that our advocates are assigned to one case. They work that case until completion so whether it’s a year or eight, they will work with that child or those children until they have some form of safe permanency," Becky Greenwood said.
Greenwood said CASA volunteers are often the one person consistently in these childrens' lives.
“One of the ways these advocates have an impact is the emotional aspect. The children can go through lots of different foster homes. They can end up with lots of different DCFS workers, but their CASA is their one person that never leaves their side during the entirety of their time in the court system.”
According to Greenwood, children with a CASA representative often spend less time in the foster care system.
“The children who have a CASA will stay in the foster care system for half the amount of time that one that doesn’t. They are able to speak to their CASA and the CASA is able to take all of that into the court system. They’re able to let the judge know what the child specifically wants.”
The 2023 event was the third annual Jeepin 4' CASA. The event began after the pandemic forced the group to find a new way to fundraise.
“In my personal life, I am a Jeeper so that’s what kind of triggered the idea. I was participating in another event and realized we could totally do the same. We’ve got the best place in the world to do it in the Ozark Mountains.”
Greenwood said Jeepers travel from all over the place for the event to support the cause.
“Jeepers are just…I’ve always known that I am kind of generous and big-hearted. When you get in the Jeep community and when you go to Jeep events, people really come together. You have a registration fee of a minimum $40 donation to CASA. We have so many participants that just do $100. We had one gentleman who did $1,540.”
The first year 94 vehicles showed up and they raised $16,000 which was about double what their previous Chili Cook Offs raised. Three years later in 2023, the event had 212 vehicles and raised $50,115.
“it gives me chills getting to share how much we raised.”
Midland Radio donated GXT1000X3VP4 Two-Way GMRS Radio Three Packs to the event. Some of the walkie talkies were kept for event management.
"The first time we did this event, we didn't have walkie talkies in with registration, but as we get bigger and bigger, we have to find larger venues so they end up being more spread out. The biggest issue that we’ve had in the past is the parking. Having me at registration, being able to mark everyone off because I had to deal with all of the pre-registrations, not being able to communicate the people who were in charge of parking was a nightmare in the past. I was doing a lot of walking and a lot of holding up the line because I was going to explain something to whoever was handling the parking," Kerry Szabo said.
This year, the parking volunteers had walkie talkies and everyone was able to easily communicate about where to strategically place people in line.
“Walkie talkies have just had a huge impact on our event," Szabo added.
Greenwood herself knows how crucial walkie talkies are on the trails.
“When you’ve got a group out there, two-way radios just provide easy communication. You get in areas where you don’t have cellphone service so it’s just super easy to hit that button on the side and say what you need to say to whoever. Whether you’re letting someone know there’s a big boulder in the road, etc., you’re able to communicate if someone has a flat tire. It’s just great communication when you’re out Jeeping.”
She couldn't believe how easy the walkie talkies made for keeping people together on the trails.
“Normally, it is unlikely with an event like this that you don’t lose someone on the trails. Maybe they make a wrong turn and throw off the line behind them. We had some of the Midland walkie talkies in the line with us, encouraging people ahead of time to have their own radios, we were able to get everyone in line on the same channel. When you have that many radios spaced out between 212 vehicles, it is much, much easier to keep people in one line to make sure everyone is taking the right turns, make sure everyone is safe, etc. We didn’t have one single Jeep that was lost.”
Greenwood reached out to Midland because it's a brand she trusts for reliable, easy-to-use communication.
“I have Midland walkie talkies myself. Some of my friends have radios, some don’t. I usually hand off one of my radios when we’re out Jeeping or having fun. I was ecstatic when Midland said they'd be able to help out.”