CASA of Saline County

Courtney Parker (from left), behavioral health technician at Shawnee Correctional Center, and Shawnee Warden Jeff Dennison present a check to Trina Irwin, executive director of CASA of Saline County. The funds were raised by offenders incarcerated in the correctional center.  

Marilyn Halstead, The Southern

HARRISBURG — CASA of Saline County received a seemingly unusual donation Monday, as funds were raised by offenders at Shawnee Correctional Center in Vienna, and the donation was delivered Monday by Warden Jeff Dennison and Courtney Parker, behavioral health technician at Shawnee Correctional Center.

“We made a Power Point to run on the information channel in our facility,” Parker said.

Offenders were solicited for money during Domestic Violence Prevention Month, which is October. Those who donated were entered into a prize drawing, with three people winning.

“We described what your organization does,” Parker said to Trina Irwin, executive director of CASA of Saline County.

Dennison said the offenders have limited resources, so most their donations were $1 to $3. They raised a total of $235 for CASA, which stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates. Irwin said every little bit helps her organization.

“CASA trains volunteers to advocate for children as they are going through the court system,” Irwin said. “We also prepare reports for the courts in the child’s best interest.”

As of Dec. 18, CASA has helped 84 children in 2017.

“We mainly get children whose parents are addicted to a substance,” Irwin said. “Most of the children have been in the midst of that or have been born addicted.”

They also work with children who are in the court system because of domestic violence or have been abandoned.

“They just need a safe place and somebody to care for them,” Irwin said.

Dennison said Shawnee Correctional Center offenders are involved in a lot of charitable causes, and the employees help, too.

Those efforts started a few years ago with a 5K walk/run for Bethany Village in Anna, which provides services to families in crisis, including a shelter for homeless women and their minor children.

They did a food drive for Illinois Baptist Children’s Home in Carmi and are providing Christmas gifts for children living at the home. They raised and donated 4,000 pounds of produce to several Golden Circle senior meal sites, the children’s home and Vienna Food Pantry. They also have helped the VA Medical Center in Marion.

“We try to get offenders involved as much as possible,” Dennison said.

“There’s a lot of positive feedback from the offenders,” Parker said.

For more information about CASA of Saline County or to donate or volunteer, visit or call 618-253-3355.



Marilyn Halstead is a reporter covering Williamson County.

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