SOMERS POINT — The Honorable M. Susan Sheppard, J.S.C. swore in 26 Atlantic and Cape May County residents as Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteers on February 26 at Linwood Country Club in Linwood. The graduation ceremony was the culmination of 35 hours of instruction in child advocacy, the court system and cultural competency. As CASA volunteers, they will advocate on behalf of children and youth living in the foster care system and recommend any necessary resources and services. The ultimate goal is to ensure that the children attain safe, permanent homes as quickly as possible.
The new CASA volunteers are: Kimberly Beckmann of Ocean City; Alexander Bland of Woodbine; Terry Boothe of Egg Harbor Township; Markisha Bradshaw of Somers Point; Bonnie Brown of Cape May Courthouse; Norma Drago of Somers Point; Kathleen Geib of Petersburg; Danielle Gomes-Chapman of Margate; Jessica Grabania of Ventnor City; Amber T. Hahn of Egg Harbor Township; Lisa Harczak of Cape May; Reema Kanzaria of Linwood; Vandy King of Mays Landing; Carol Lee Lerro of Somers Point; Kathryn McCallion of Wildwood Crest; Doreen Milite of Margate; Stephanie Murray of Seaville; Kathleen Pfeffer of Absecon; Cydnee Phoenix of Egg Harbor Township; Dorothy Smith of Somers Point; Billie Staller of Margate; Valerie Stone of Mays Landing; Anna Strang of Egg Harbor Township; Wilma Vazquez Burgos of Pleasantville; Diane Welke of Mays Landing; and, Joeylynn Woodring of Egg Harbor City.
“We are so grateful for these individuals commitment to advocate for children living in the foster care system,” said Director of Program Services Jennifer Valentine.
“Unfortunately, on average 300 new children enter foster care every year. Therefore, our need to recruit and train new advocates also grows. Our goal is to have a CASA volunteer for every child and youth in Atlantic and Cape May Counties who needs one. Thankfully, we are very close to that goal. The new CASA volunteers are starting a journey that will help change the lives of the children they meet and in the process their lives will be changed as well.”
CASA volunteers meet with everyone on the child’s case, including teachers, caseworkers, counselors and health care providers and gather information into objective court reports. Each report, submitted to the family courts at every hearing, contains recommendations for services and resources regarding the child’s education, medical and overall wellbeing.
Individuals interested in becoming a CASA volunteer should attend one of our monthly Information Sessions held monthly at the CASA office at 321 Shore Road, Somers Point, N.J. and in the community. For more information call 609-601-7800 or visit AtlanticCapeCASA.org.