SOMERS POINT — Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children of Atlantic and Cape May Counties held its inaugural Change Makers award ceremony Oct. 23 at its annual Community Awareness Lunch at Greate Bay Country Club.
The Change Makers award recognizes individuals who have helped advance the CASA mission through fundraising, organizational capacity and volunteerism. The awardees were John J. Moller of Egg Harbor Township, the Byrnes Family of Linwood, and Arlene and George Groch of Northfield.
John Moller is a CPA and a partner at Capaldi Reynolds & Pelosi. He joined the CASA Board of Trustees in 2012 and filled the role of board treasurer from 2015 through 2019. Moller was instrumental in providing financial guidance and spearheaded the board’s first-ever investment policy. Moller and his wife, Heather, were also inaugural members of the I am for the Child Legacy Society — pledging a multi-year gift to the organization.
“John has been a trusted adviser and steady hand through our organizational growth. Always ready to lend his expertise and guidance, especially in the financial realm, he has been an indispensable asset for the organization,” said Executive Director Angie Waters.
June Byrnes was the first person in her family to become involved with CASA, first assisting with fundraising event committees, than officially joining the board in 2014, a position she held for four years. Giving back to the community runs deep in the Byrnes household, as her husband, Jim, and all three children — Jackson, Jessica and Julia — have served on event committees or organized fundraising events for CASA, including the War at the Shore Ergathon held last January at Mainland Regional High School.
“The Byrnes family has supported every CASA fundraising event for many years, either through sponsorship, committee work or organizing their own community events that have benefited CASA,” said Director of Development Lauren Crenshaw, “June has chaired several fundraising committees, and is a tireless champion in the community for CASA’s mission. We are so grateful to the entire Byrnes family for their commitment to foster youth.”
Arlene and George Groch rented CASA their first three-room office space in 2003 in the same building as Arlene Groch’s law firm. From that first meeting, the Groches have been committed to the CASA mission, helping improve the awareness of CASA through their large network of friends, professional contacts and community groups. In 2018, instead of selling the building they had owned for over two decades, the Groches offered the building to CASA — as a donation — so CASA would have a permanent home.
“We could never have imagined, in 2003, owning this building. I was the only staff person at the time,” said CASA Executive Director Angie Waters, “and the thought that we would ever even need a building this large was the furthest from my mind. But our growth as far exceeded even my wildest dreams — both in service to children, staff and organizational capacity. The gift of this building from the Groches, aside from being the largest individual gift that has ever been given to the organization, just proves to me that the people in our community — like Arlene and George — really care about our community, care about our foster youth, and see a real value in the work that our CASA volunteers do every day to advocate for children in need. When Arlene and George approached me with their desire to donate their building — my first thought was, wow, as an organization, we have fought all of these years for children to find their forever home and now Arlene and George were giving us ours, and we couldn’t be more grateful.”