Toni New honored for work on behalf of Tennessee children
NASHVILLE, Jan. 23, 2007 — Toni New of Kingsport has been named the 2007 CASA Volunteer of the Year by the Tennessee Bar Association Young Lawyers Division. She was recognized for her work with CASA for Kids Inc. in Sullivan and Hawkins counties, and her long-standing commitment to the mission of Court Appointed Special Advocates.
Connie Steere, executive director of CASA for Kids, nominated New and described her as “advocacy in action.” Indeed, New has been an active volunteer with CASA and a strong advocate for both the program and the children it serves. Not only has she worked with neglected and abused children for over 10 years, she also has assisted with fundraising for the agency, become a vocal voice for the program, recruited additional volunteers (including her own husband) and mentored new volunteers. Within the last few years, New has taken her work with children to a new level: obtaining her doctorate degree and opening her own counseling and supervised visitation service while continuing to serve with CASA.
According to Steere, however, New’s greatest contribution has been her exemplary casework. Whether working to achieve permanency for an abused child, advocating for a young person with special needs or protecting a child from a dangerous home environment, New has proven that she has the tenacity and creativity needed to get results. On numerous occasions she has gone above and beyond what is expected of a CASA volunteer.
In one such case, New was was made award of a child with Tourette's Syndrome and violent tendencies who was close to being labeled by the state as un-adoptable. Drawing on her experience as a former foster parent, New won temporary custody and for the next two years provided a stable and nurturing home for the child and his younger sister. At the end of their time together, the boy no longer required special education classes, was well behaved and had his condition under control. With these life changes, a private adoption agency was able to place him in a permanent home.
New’s tremendous commitment to the CASA program and to the well being of all children exemplifies the volunteer spirit the YLD seeks to recognize and reward through the CASA Volunteer of the Year Award.
Each year, the Young Lawyers Division (YLD) selects a Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) volunteer from nominations made by Tennessee's local CASA agencies. CASA volunteers are appointed by judges to advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children and to ensure they do not get lost in the overburdened legal system or languish in an inappropriate group or foster home.