Over 75 local advocates, volunteers and supporters gathered at the Ohio University Inn on April 30, 2018 to celebrate CASA Day in Athens County.The event was hosted by the Athens CASA/GAL Program and the Friends of CASA. The theme of Superheroes was present throughout the entire evening, in honor of CASA's upcoming community event, the Superhero Dash on May 19. Attendees were even invited to guess the theme of the music playing in the venue. Every song had the word "hero" in it. Capes and masks were available for young guests to decorate and wear during the event.
Guests heard from Athens CASA Executive Director and Southeast Ohio CASA Regional Director Jenny Stotts and Judge Robert Stewart of Athens County Juvenile Court. Ms. Stotts is responsible for an effort to expand CASA programming across Southeastern Ohio, which is supported by the Ohio CASA Association and the Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. Athens CASA was the recent recipient of a $205k grant from the Ohio Attorney General to spearhead CASA expansion across the region. Judge Stewart commented that he regularly speaks to his fellow judges about the benefits of a CASA program and encourages them to consider developing CASA in their counties.
Several local advocates and supporters were recognized during the event. Roberta Watkins was honored for her 8 year commitment as a Court Appointed Special Advocate with the program, having worked with over a dozen children during that time. Also recognized was Stephanie Wood for her 9 years of service to the Friends of CASA Board.
The program honored CASA Volunteer Erin Morgenstern for her tenure on the board. Ms. Morgenstern was joined by her young son at the podium as she remarked that while she is no longer on the board, she plans to continue as a volunteer advocate and cannot imagine her life without CASA.
Retiring CASA Volunteer Cathey Glenn-Weinfurtner was recognized for her 12 years of service as an advocate and she received a warm welcome to the Friends of CASA Board of Directors. Also honored, was Nancy Cooper in her 18th year as a CASA Volunteer. Ms. Cooper remarked that volunteering with CASA was incredibly rewarding and that she plans to continue her work with local children as she just accepted assignment to a new case in juvenile court.
President of the Athens County Board of Commissioners Lenny Eliason was on hand to present the Athens CASA/GAL Program with a resolution proclaiming April 30, 2018 "CASA Day in Athens County." Mr. Eliason remarked the county's appreciation for the volunteers of the CASA program providing an invaluable service to local children.
Ms. Stotts closed the event by quoting Batman, "You're going to make a difference. A lot of times it won't be huge, it won't be visible even. But it will matter just the same."
Athens CASA is currently training new CASA Volunteers and is recruiting interested community members for a training later in the year. Learn more at www.athenscasa.org.