2014 CASA Volunteer of the Year Selected

The YLD has selected the 2014 CASA Volunteer of the Year from among the largest number of nominations ever received for the program, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. At its winter board dinner in January, the YLD will present the award to Jack McNew of Harriman, a volunteer with CASA of the Ninth Judicial District. McNew has volunteered with the agency for five years and according to Executive Director Sandra Weaver, he has “been a mainstay of CASA…from its founding.” In her application nominating McNew, Weaver recounts how he served as part of a small group that undertook a strategic planning process to determine whether to form the agency and then worked to bring management guidelines to the counties being served. He also was one of the first volunteer advocates and the first chair of the board of directors. According to Weaver, McNew always can be counted on to step in when necessary, having served as interim treasurer and liaison to the county commission when others had to step aside. Finally, Weaver writes that McNew is a dynamic and persuasive speaker about the work CASA does, and that he routinely speaks to community groups and potential funding sources about the program.

In addition to being a tremendous asset to the administration of the program, Weaver says McNew exhibits a sincere love and concern for the children he is appointed to represent. As examples she references two particular cases. In the first, which also happens to be the agency’s longest running case, McNew has been a constant presence in the life of a young man, and though he has not found a permanent home for him yet, he has stuck by him through thick and thin. In another case, McNew helped a young man get into a more supportive home though his efforts to encourage behavior changes met with limited success. McNew finally administered some tough love and told the teen that had had done what he could and the rest was up to him. A year later, McNew received word that the young man, who was about to graduate from high school, wanted him to attend the ceremony. He later told McNew, “Without you, I would not be here.”

Indeed, without CASA volunteers across the state, hundreds of children would not find their way through difficult circumstances and challenging environments. Special thanks goes to all those who serve and all those who nominated outstanding volunteers. Appreciation also goes to Knoxville lawyer Katrina Atchley Arbogast who chairs the YLD’s Children’s Issues Committee and the members of the award committee who reviewed all of the applications. Read more in this press release and watch for photos of the award ceremony in the January issue of E-DICT.