Before it served Collin County’s most vulnerable children, the building on 101 E. Davis St. was a grocery store and then a law office.
By the time Court Appointed Special Advocates of Collin County moved in, the building’s insides were brown and dark with wood everywhere, and the entrance was more closed off. There were also no pictures of children anywhere.
Now, a spot inside includes photos of children of a variety of ages, and that serves an important purpose.
“We wanted a reminder of why we’re here,” said Tricia Clifton, president and CEO of CASA of Collin County.
The organization serves 100% of abused and neglected children removed from their homes in Collin County and advocates for their best interests in foster care. The addition of children's photos inside the CASA of Collin County building is just one of multiple changes that have taken place inside 101 E. Davis St. that aim to create a lighter, more open and collaborative environment.
On Tuesday, CASA of Collin County celebrated the renovations with community members and local elected officials after the year-long effort to update the building--and after the organization had to wait roughly an extra year to move in due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Clifton said the vision for the changes included how the organization would grow into the future.
“It breaks our hearts, it should break our collective hearts that this is necessary, but it will always be necessary, and it will become even more necessary as we continue to grow,” State Rep. Jeff Leach said Tuesday.
Clifton said the organization is currently serving about 370 open cases and that it typically serves about 500-600 cases per year.
Today, the building features a volunteer training room that can fit about 50 people, an advocate resource area that allows volunteer advocates to work together, a toy room and an open workspace area for advocates. It also includes additional reminders of the reason for the work that goes on inside.
One such reminder sits on the wall of the building front entrance, which has been redone to appear more open and inviting. The wall to the side features white letters that subtly but firmly remind visitors and staff members alike of the mission of CASA of Collin County.
“We speak up for abused children,” the letters read.