‘It never stops’: Javon Daniel talks about continuing work of Cullman Caring for Kids

Cullman Caring for Kids Executive Director Javon Daniel and his staff partnered with Firehouse Subs for a fundraiser Wednesday. (W.C. Mann for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Cullman Caring for Kids (CCK) on Wednesday joined forces with Cullman’s Firehouse Subs for a fundraising event, and The Tribune caught up with CCK Executive Director Javon Daniel at the local eatery for an update on how the organization’s multiple services- most notably its food pantry- are doing these days.

Daniel said, “We’re just excited to be here. This is the first time we’ve partnered with Firehouse Subs, and we were going to do it earlier, but with the COVID virus, we had to postpone. Food’s great! I love to be here.”

How is the food pantry doing?

“Well, we never have enough food, but we have what we have. I won’t say that we’re stocked by any means; we still need food. We’ve had some produce brought in by some of the local farmers. Our dry goods, canned goods are low, and we always need food.

“Some people get the idea that, ‘Well, you just had a food drive’ or ‘We just donated a thousand pounds two months ago.’ Well, what you have to realize is we’re open three and a half days a week, and a thousand pounds of food will go out that door in a week’s time, or more. It’s really important for people to understand that it never stops. 

“We’re here all the time, and it’s not a one-time thing. You know, we have people that come in, some- especially those with small children or the elderly- will come in every month. It’s really important for people to understand that the food bank- we can’t just worry about today. We’ve got to worry about tomorrow and the next day, and the next day and the next day. So we always need food: canned food, dry goods, whatever.”

How about CASA?

CCK’s child advocacy program, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), provides a crucial, but largely unseen, service to children in crisis, with an all-volunteer staff that performs independent investigations and provides information to the courts to help judges act in the best interests of the children.

Daniel told The Tribune, “Our CASA program is doing well. We’ve been able to finish a training class by social distancing and doing all that stuff. We have a swearing-in ceremony for- I think it’s six- new volunteers on the 27th. Judge (Rusty) Turner and Judge (Chad) Floyd will be there to swear those volunteers in, and then they’ll be ready to be appointed on a case that a child that’s in the court system for abuse or neglect. CASA, once they finish their background checks and training, they’re sworn in by the judges, and then they are assigned by one of the District Court judges to be an advocate for a child that’s there because of abuse or neglect. That will bring us up to about 30 volunteers just in Cullman County.”

Cullman CASA’s soon-to-be 30 volunteer advocates have a current active caseload of more than 100 children in crisis. With three months to go in its grant cycle, CASA has already reached the full number of new cases covered under its 2020 grant.

CCK also continues its “Kids Matter” radio program, doing shows by phone now instead of going to the studio. Daniel added that CCK has some new things coming up, though he did not reveal those plans.

For more on CCK, including information on how to donate food to the food pantry, to apply for services, or to make an online monetary donation, visit www.cullmancaringforkids.com or www.facebook.com/CullmanCaringForKids/ or call 256-739-1111.

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W.C. Mann