MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) For Kids of Monongalia and Preston Counties has been awarded a grant by the Milan Puskar Foundation in an effort to improve the lives of local youths.

The $25,000 grant will be used to hire Jessica Pepper, a “Transitional Youth Coordinator,” to “identify all children in the foster care system located in Monongalia and Preston Counties, aged 15 and older, who are at risk of aging out of the foster care system,” according to a CASA press release. The coordinator will be responsible for helping these youth prepare for life outside the foster care system.

Milan Puskar Foundation leaders Lori Maynard, Kyle Pratt and Tom Rubenstein presented the money to CASA at the their office in Morgantown in December.

“We are excited and very honored to receive this funding from the Milan Puskar Foundation,” Crissi Kolb, executive director of CASA For Kids of Monongalia and Preston Counties, said. “The Foundation has a true appreciation for the work that CASA does in the community, and this grant provides for a significant and positive change for CASA. Because of the Foundation’s generosity, CASA’s new Transitional Youth Coordinator will work with an older segment of youth on a weekly basis to develop their short-term and long-term goals while also being there every step of the way helping to achieve them.”

Pepper is set to begin her duties in January, according to the release. She has previously worked with CASA as an intern and volunteer, and is on course to earn a master’s degree in social work from WVU in May.

To learn more about CASA you can visit casaforkidsmpc.org or by call 304-599-1087. For more information on the Milan Puskar Foundation, visit puskarfoundation.org.