CASA/GAL Volunteer Spotlight
Volunteers are the heart of the CASA mission. The Rising Star Volunteer and the Pro Star Volunteer awards are given annually in recognition of volunteers who serve in an outstanding capacity. They demonstrate diligence and persistence, an understanding of the CASA role and its boundaries, and a commitment to training and development. Rising Star Volunteers have served for less than two years, while Pro Star volunteers have served for more than two.
2016 Pro Star Volunteer of the Year
Lorain County Voices for Children
CASA volunteers are often called “a child’s voice.” Kristen LePrevost proved to be the personification of the metaphor when she was assigned a child who cannot speak.
The child was born with a rare, inherited disorder. He had severe abnormalities, and cardiac and renal problems. At any given time, up to 15 doctors and other professionals managed his care. Because his mother was unable to care for him he was removed from the home and hospitalized for failure to thrive.
Kristen was undaunted. She visited the child more than 30 times in various settings throughout the three-year life of the case. She created a spreadsheet of his care providers and contacted them frequently for updates on his condition. She never stopped asking questions, researching, investigating or reporting. Little wonder Tim Green, her program director in Lorain County, called her “assertive and tenacious.”
Kristen’s efforts paid off. The child has been adopted and is thriving. As Tim said, “Kristen was his voice and she spoke loudly.”
2016 Rising Star Volunteer of the Year
Clark County CASA/GAL Program
The 2016 Rising Star Volunteer can truly be said to always go the extra mile. Dennis Blank lives in East Liberty, but frequently makes a two-hour round trip as a volunteer for the Clark County Juvenile Court CASA Program. In March alone, Dennis added 492 miles to his odometer. That’s quite a few extra miles.
Dennis builds positive relationships with all members of a child-serving team and fosters collaboration. He not only has compassion for children and families, he also has a number of practical skills that translate to effective advocacy. Dennis is so organized and thorough that social workers specifically request him for their teams.
In one recent case, Dennis’ tenacity led to a change in the county’s report-writing templates to eliminate unnecessary delays in adoption proceedings going forward.