TBA Honors CASA, Marks Child Abuse Prevention Month - Articles

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Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Apr 1, 2014

Journal Issue Date: Apr 2014

Journal Name: April 2014 - Vol. 50, No. 4

CASA currently serves families in 47 Tennessee counties through 30 local agencies.

Across the state, numerous organizations work to make Tennessee a better place for children and families. One such group is Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), which currently serves families in 47 counties through 30 local agencies. During the month of April, a number of these local agencies will host events to mark Child Abuse Prevention Month and raise awareness of their work.

The Tennessee Bar Association Young Lawyers Division also recently recognized the work of CASA with the presentation of its annual CASA Volunteer of the Year Award to Jack McNew of Harriman, who serves with CASA of the Ninth Judicial District. McNew has volunteered with the agency since its founding in 2008, and over the course of his involvement has worked with nearly 24 children.

According to Sandra Weaver, executive director of the agency, McNew “has been a mainstay” of the program: serving as part of a small group that undertook a strategic planning process to determine whether to form the agency, working to develop management guidelines, loaning the program the finances it needed to get off the ground, serving as one of the first volunteer advocates, and presiding as the first president of its board of directors.

Over the last five years, McNew also has served as the agency’s interim treasurer and liaison to the county commission. In that role, he successfully obtained office space in the courthouse for the CASA staff. He also often speaks to community groups and potential funders about the organization. Most recently, he has become a peer coordinator, supervising six new volunteers.

In addition to this outstanding commitment to his local agency, McNew exhibits sincere love and concern to all the children he represents. In nominating him for the award, Weaver noted two cases in particular that demonstrate that concern.

In the first case, which is also the agency’s longest running case, McNew has been a constant presence in the life of a young man. Though he has yet to find a permanent home for him, McNew has stuck by this teen through many bad times and good.

In the second case, McNew helped a young man find a more supportive home, though his efforts to encourage behavioral changes met with limited success. McNew finally told the teen that he 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.

“Without you, I would not be here,” he later told McNew.

Whether the case requires dogged determination, compassion or tough love, Jack McNew comes through for the children he represents — and that is why the YLD selected him for the 2014 CASA Volunteer of the Year Award.

McNew and Weaver were recognized for their work by Knoxville lawyer Katrina Atchley Arbogast, chair of the YLD Children’s Issues Committee, at the YLD’s winter board meeting in Nashville. This year also marked the 10th anniversary of the award, a milestone that was celebrated with a video presentation featuring all previous award recipients.

Learn More

Child Abuse Prevention Month

  • See a listing of related events in the state at www.tba.org/journal/child-abuse-prevention-month-events
  • Learn more about child abuse and how to report suspected abuse at www.tncasa.org/LearnMoreAboutChildAbuse.html.

CASA Volunteer of the Year Award
Each year, the YLD honors a CASA volunteer who goes the extra mile in his or her work with children in the state. The award recipient is selected from nominations made by Tennessee’s local CASA agencies.

  • See a list of past recipients and more about this year’s winner at www.tba.org/programs/casa-volunteer-of-the-year
  • CASA of the Ninth Judicial District serves children in Loudon, Morgan and Roane counties, www.casa9thtn.org.

Tennessee CASA
CASA professionally trains and carefully screens volunteers to become advocates for abused and neglected children in juvenile court. Volunteers are appointed by judges to advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children and to ensure that children do not get lost in an overburdened legal system or languish in an inappropriate group or foster home. The goal of every CASA volunteer is to find a safe, permanent home for victimized children.

  • Find a CASA agency near you at www.tncasa.org/TNCASAPrograms.html

Stacey Shrader Joslin is media relations coordinator and Young Lawyers Division director at the Tennessee Bar Association.