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Remembering Shane Bayless

In memory of Shane Bayless | FEBRUARY 20, 1967 – JUNE 21, 2019

By Ann McAlpin, Executive Director | CASA Child Advocates of Montgomery County

Remembering Shane BaylessYou may have heard that Shane Bayless passed away unexpectedly in late June. Shane was a CASA Board member for 3 years between 2012 and 2015, and was Board Chair for much of that time. Shane had a substantial part in CASA’s growth, and he was an amazing speaker on CASA’s behalf.

Shane was an impressive man with a big heart—words are inadequate to express the loss to the community, his family, and all of us who knew Shane and benefited from his wisdom, his warmth, and his willingness to make a difference. As I wrote this, I recalled his Gala speech in 2014. We had written a draft for Shane, but in his own style, he surprised us with a complete re-write. We all loved it, and it is in my mind this morning. I’ve copied it in below.

Shane’s speech from the 2014 Gala.

Good evening. As Dana stated, I have the pleasure of serving as the Board Chair for CASA Child Advocates of Montgomery County. 

I would like to briefly pause in the festivities of this evening and secure your attention to ask each of you to allow your mind to reflect back on your childhood. Please try to allow yourself to recall the “bad times”…which for me admittedly amounted to not getting my parents to stop for ice cream or having to wear my older siblings hand me down clothes. And, boy did I think my world was horrible.

Now…try to imagine being five years old and living with abuse or neglect from your parents? Imagine not having the security of the love of your family and where your home is not a place where you feel safe, wanted and loved. Then…allow yourself to image that suddenly one day everything you know – everything you have – is taken away from you and you are placed in a stranger’s home.  Can you imagine? I’ll be honest with you – I feel very fortunate to say that I really can’t get there. 

Unfortunately my friends, what a good number of us here tonight can’t imagine… is the reality and every day existence that far too many children in our community face here in Montgomery County. A reality that these children, who have the great misfortune of having to exist in this type of environment may find themselves being moved to multiple foster homes while in the care of CPS. A reality where visitation with their parents may be irregular, or sometimes, just not an option. But one very fortunate reality for these children, is that their CASA Advocate will likely be one of the only constant, reliable, and supportive adults in their life.  

CASA Advocates speak up for abused and neglected children. That’s what we do. And in Montgomery County, we are the only ones that do this.

It costs roughly [$1,500] a year for CASA to support one child with an Advocate – someone to give that child a voice – someone to give that child hope and to help find the safe and nurturing home in which every child deserves to grow up in. For $100 a month, you can provide a child a voice through the CASA advocate. For $12,000, you can forever change the lives of 12 children and permanently alter “reality for these abused and neglected kids. 

So I thank you for coming to our Gala this evening. I also thank each one of you who are already doing so much for CASA, and tonight I am here to ask you each join me in doing a little more.

At your seat tonight is an envelope that reads simply, “Fund A Child.”  Fund A Child provides each of us the opportunity to support the ongoing needs of abused children in Montgomery County by making a financial gift to CASA. 

Please listen to your heart and speak with your pocketbooks. Let’s do what we can to help these children who have so little and no reason to expect any better. Make tonight a new beginning as we each “Fund a Child,” at our personal best. Then please, take an extra envelope with you and tell a friend about CASA.

Because tonight is about our community and our children and a future filled with better, safer, more joy-filled tomorrows.

Thank you again for coming tonight.

~Shane Bayless