Nearly 300 CASA Volunteers speak up for abused and neglected children in Hamilton County.
Each year, selected CASA Volunteers share their stories and are honored with the Darlene Kamine Advocate of the Year award.
CASA Program Director Charlotte Caples said every single CASA Volunteer is an amazing gift to our children. “All through the year, we know about the phone calls, the emails, the meetings, the court hearings and the visits that CASA Volunteers prioritize so that our children have a real voice,” Caples said. “Each year, the Darlene Kamine Advocate of the Year awards give the ProKids CASA Managers an opportunity to name ProKids CASA Volunteers who have embraced the difficult work of being a CASA Volunteer with particular energy and focus.”
Each of these honorees is an example of the powerful advocacy every CASA Volunteer does every day.
Jill Baker Braun | 9 years |17 children
For Jill, being a ProKids CASA Volunteer was the logical next step after she and her husband adopted their sons, now 19 and 21. “I just knew I had to do something to help kids in foster care. I saw that ProKids was such a great agency in terms of meeting the needs of kids in the most desperate situations,” she says. “We’re the ones who don’t take a side except the kids’ side. Every hour, every child, it’s planting a seed even if we don’t see the positive outcome today.”
Mary Anne Bressler |12 years | 12 children
“Even though it’s seldom ‘happily ever after’ when I end a case, I keep going,” Mary Anne says. “I keep learning more about the resiliency of kids and how families aren’t defined by anything other than the sharing of one another’s hearts.” She says the support she gets in her work as a CASA Volunteer makes all the difference. “Despite how difficult the work is, the staff at ProKids are so life-giving,” Mary Anne says. “I find it inspiring to work with them on behalf of our children.”
Karen Gerrety | 8 years | 10 children
When Karen first came to ProKids, she wasn’t sure she could become a CASA Volunteer. “But the training and the staff at ProKids made me believe I could do it,” she says. “My world has always been pretty sheltered.. but I think ‘if not me, then who?’” While CASA Volunteers can’t avoid the messy conflicts that are in their children’s families, “we can be the calming influence,” Karen says. “We can help reduce any tension because we are speaking up for the children. And that’s what they need.”
Amy Gilles | 7 years | 13 children
When Amy stepped back from fulltime pediatric nursing, she missed interacting with children. “I wanted to see how I could make an impact,” Amy says. And although she knew a lot about children, she found out there was a lot more to learn about child protection and child abuse and neglect. “We work with these families at their worst time of need,” Amy says. “ProKids is able to make a difference because everyone is strong, completely professional, but still tender-hearted when it comes to the kids.” Read more here.
Mike Hardy | 5 years | 12 children
“I have a soft spot for kids. That’s why I am at ProKids: I wanted to make a difference in the life of a child.” A former engineer, Mike saw that at ProKids he could use his analytical mind and determination to help children. “I like to think about ways to solve problems and then get others to help,” Mike says. “And once I decide to get something done, I get it done. These children just need someone who sees what is possible and then gets things done. And that’s ProKids.”