Lake County Juvenile Court Judge Sarah P. Lessman told more than 100 CASA Lake County volunteers and guests that the volunteers advocating for abused children are "significant, special and make a difference."
"Your CASA court reports are gold -- and we read them carefully. You fight tirelessly for their best interests and are often the only constant in their lives," Lessman said, "Thank you for making the world a better place for these children."
Lessman was talking about the more than 3,000 abused and neglected children CASA volunteers have advocated for since the Vernon Hills nonprofit organization was incorporated 20 years ago. She addressed the advocates March 8 during the 2014 Volunteer Appreciation Dinner in the Arboretum Club, Buffalo Grove.
At this year's festivities, 41 Marathon Awards were announced recognizing advocates who have been on their cases for five years or more, and eight Outstanding Service Awards.
The Outstanding Service Award recipients included: Cathy Blythe and Mary Ellen Palubicki, both from Libertyville; Mary Weber, Linda Piepenbrink, Tuly Faden and Jeanette White, all from Grayslake; Alyce Adesko of Fox Lake; and Judi Lindgren of Lake Forest.
Terri Zenner Greenberg, CASA executive director, said the 297 advocates provide "information (about the children) that the judge cannot get anywhere else -- especially when the overburdened social workers change cases so often." She said last year nearly 600 volunteers advocated for these vulnerable children.
In printed remarks, Greenberg stated the advocates "ensure that the children are not forgotten … they visit foster homes, group homes, shelters and detention facilities to see the at-risk children assigned to them."
"They also visit high schools, grammar schools, doctors' offices, agency offices, hospitals, day care facilities and preschools to ensure that the court always has a complete picture of their lives. They spend many hours collecting their notes, making calls and writing detailed court reports."
"The children are afraid, angry and alone -- and they count on their CASAs to be there for them," added Greenberg.
CASA advocates go through 40 hours of training at CASA before being sworn in as representatives of the court. For more information on how to make a difference in a child's life, call CASA at (847) 383-6260, ext. 217 or visit the website at www.casalakecounty.com.