Coffee County Child Advocate Named CASA Volunteer of the Year - Articles

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Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Jan 24, 2012

Award given to Ray Wood at Nashville ceremony

NASHVILLE, Jan. 24, 2012 — Raymond M. Wood of Manchester has been named the 2012 CASA Volunteer of the Year by the Tennessee Bar Association Young Lawyers Division (YLD). The award recognizes Wood's 11 years of service as a volunteer for CASA Works Inc., which serves children in Bedford and Coffee counties.

Wood joined CASA as a volunteer in June 2001 after hearing a presentation about the organization at the Manchester Breakfast Rotary Club. At the time, he was preparing to retire and was looking for an opportunity to volunteer in the community. CASA Works Inc. Executive Director Lynne S. Farrar, who nominated Wood for the honor, says he was one of the first volunteers to join the agency after it was formed and worked hard to establish a solid reputation for the program, which continues to this day.

During his service with CASA, Wood has advocated for 19 children in nine families. He has logged more than 3,000 volunteer hours and put close to 10,000 miles on his car -- sometimes traveling more than two hours to follow up with his "kids." His clients have ranged in age from newborns to teens, and his cases have involved medical neglect, physical abuse and sexual abuse. Farrar says that Wood approaches each case with a high level of commitment to finding the right resources and solutions. His work has earned him the nickname "Papa Ray."

In addition to working with CASA, Wood is active in a number of community organizations. He is a longtime member of the Manchester Breakfast Rotary Club, which, through his efforts, has donated $500 to CASA Works each year for the last 10 years. And he has been involved with the Manchester Exchange Club, earning its Book of Golden Deeds Award in 2005 for his work with CASA.

Knoxville lawyer Katrina Atchley, chair of the YLD Children's Issues Committee, presented the award and a cash gift to Wood at a dinner in Nashville on Jan. 13. In announcing the YLD's selection, Atchley said the group sought to honor Wood's longtime service, willingness to take on tough cases and commitment to finding creative solutions for difficult situations.

Each year, the Young Lawyers Division (YLD) selects a Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) volunteer from nominations made by Tennessee's local CASA agencies. The award recognizes a volunteer who goes the extra mile in his or her work with children in the state. CASA volunteers are appointed by the courts to advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children and to ensure they do not get lost in the legal system or languish in an inappropriate group or foster home.

Learn more about the CASA Volunteer of the Year Award

Download a photo of Wood receiving his award
Pictured with YLD Children's Issues Committee Chair Katrina Atchley (left) and CASA Works Executive Director Lynne Farrar