More than 200 guests gathered at the Manchester Country Club on Thursday, June 21, to celebrate 29 years of advocacy for New Hampshire’s abused and neglected children. The evening honored CASA volunteers, donors and supporters who have come together to help give a voice to New Hampshire’s most vulnerable children.
The evening was packed with inspiration, from former CASA child Shalisa who shared her experience growing up in foster care and her future goals and dreams, to New Hampshire’s Governor Chris Sununu, who encouraged everyone gathered in the room to help our shortage of advocates by each recruiting one more person to help.
The Governor’s challenge issued during remarks as he accepted CASA’s John McDermott Champion of Children Award, was prefaced early in the evening by CASA President and CEO Marty Sink sharing that in the last 3 years, CASA of New Hampshire has seen a 49 percent increase in the cases it has been asked to take. More volunteers and staff members have been needed to manage the growing requests and with the help of new grants and funding, CASA has been able this year to hire three new staff positions to supervise a growing group of volunteer advocates.
Shalisa, 19, shared the difficulties of being a foster child and being separated from her birth family. But her the next chapter in her story is just being written. Shalisa is now a registered LNA who is planning to begin studying for her RN. She lives with a her loving foster family and is grateful for all the support her CASA gave her over the more than six years her case was open.
CASA’s annual celebration is an opportunity to reflect on the successes of the year, but also to recognize the many volunteers and community partners that help CASA continue to thrive throughout the year. Included in this year’s recognition were 46 volunteer advocates celebrating milestone years of 5,10, 15 and this year, for the first time, 25 years! These advocates were recognized individually for their dedication and time committed to improving the lives of victimized children in their area. Most notably, Marc Clement and Fred Hurwitz were honored for their incredible 25 years of service. Both graduated from volunteer training in January of 1993 and between the two of them have advocated for more than 50 children throughout the state helping to ensure that they have a safe, permanent home to grow up in.
CASA’s newest award this year, the Linda Egbert Outstanding Advocacy Award was presented to Carl Dias, who was described by his program manager and peers as thoughtful, thorough, flexible, dependable and passionate among many other superlatives. The award, named for Linda, a 10-year advocate who passed suddenly last fall, seeks to recognize advocates who shared Linda’s tenacity and willingness to go above an beyond for the children she was blessed to work with. Carl was unanimously selected by the panel of judges for the award.
In his short remarks to the attendees, Carl shared how he came to decide to become a CASA after seeing an ad for it shortly after retiring.
“You see, I’ve been blessed with great parents, a giving wife, wonderful kids and a host of remarkable great and grandchildren,” Carl said. “This program has given me the personal and professional opportunity to make a significant and long-lasting positive impact on children that are far less fortunate.”
Other awardees from the evening included McLean Communications CASA’s 2018 Community Partner of the Year for the valuable support and resources they provide, from advertising and editorial promotion of CASA’s work to numerous staff who give their time and energy to several of CASA’s fundraising events. The Honorable James Leary of the Nashua District Court was named Judge of the Year for his commitment to facilitating the best possible outcome for children in his court room.
Gov. Sununu was awarded the John McDermott Champion of Children award for support of children in his leadership role leading the way in developing educational policies that provide opportunity for children of all ages, as well as for his role in helping to fight the opioid epidemic and the work he has done to help provide stronger support for children and families in the child welfare system.
This wonderful evening would not be possible without all CASA supporters near and far. CASA is pleased to honor so many that deserve recognition, and will continue towards it’s mission to reach every abused or neglected child in New Hampshire. Check a complete gallery of photos from the evening here!