LDS young men work in CAJA outreach

MADISON – A Madison father taught his sons about serving the community with walk-the-walk, not talk-the-talk, outreach.

Dave Reynolds was searching for a community project to help his two older sons, 15-year-old Christian and 12-year-old Conner, earn their Citizenship in the Community merit badges in Boy Scouts.

Reynolds serves as a local Court-Appointed Juvenile Advocate. CAJA, a volunteer non-profit community organization, works with the judicial and foster care systems to provide additional assistance to children who have been taken from their homes and placed into the foster care system. Madison County has approximately 80 CAJAs.

CAJA of Madison County has an annual fundraising event at Lowe Mill in Huntsville, Reynolds discovered. The event’s evening segment, Yuri’s Night, pays tribute to Yuri Gregarin who first orbited the earth.

During the day, youth in foster care can enjoy a carnival, baseball game and photo booths. Rocket City Guardian Outreach sponsors this event, in part, in its help to underprivileged children.

Young Men of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Madison First Ward built the activity area’s frontage. Reynolds serves as Stake Young Men’s Secretary and directed their construction work. As a child, he watched his mother serve as a CAJA volunteer.

Rocket City Guardian Outreach organized superhero-themed activities this year. Twenty-four LDS young men matched the theme with their “Superhero Hall of Justice” entrance.

“There’s a desperate need for CAJA volunteers here in the county. We tend to think that we’re insulated from poverty and drugs here, but, once you enter this world of children pulled into the court system due to no fault of their own, you realize these things all happen within a stone’s throw of our homes,” Reynolds said.

“It’s a heartbreaking experience to see what these kids have to go through but terribly rewarding when you realize that you played a material part in getting them into a better situation,” Reynolds said.

Following the judge’s specific instructions, the CAJA volunteer talks with the child, interfaces with the foster family and visits with the biological parents. “A CAJA volunteer becomes the eyes and the ears of the judge, reporting back to the judge, making recommendations and ensuring the needs of the child, like medications, are met,” Reynolds said.

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