ROSELLE PARK, NJ –The latest class of community members – seven volunteers representing six municipalities – have completed 30 hours of training to become advocates for Union County’s CASA, the only nonprofit advocating for the best interests of the abused, neglected or abandoned young people who have been removed from the home and placed in care without their guilt. Juliann “Juli” Ford of Roselle Park is among the newly sworn in volunteer advocates.
Sworn in as a judiciary volunteer by Superior Court Judge James Hely by Zoom looking at newly named Judge Stacey Boretz, the retired teacher was accompanied by classmates Phil Newcomb of Cranford; Jason Fermin of Linden; Jayme Lipkin and Neetu Salhotra of Short Hills; Amanda O’Dowd of Summit and Dawn Saunders of Warren.
Next, new advocates can be matched with a foster youth or designated sibling and, once legally assigned to their case by court order, can make arrangements to meet their designated youth and begin their work. . This class is for ages 34 to 63 and includes both parents and non -parents, and the working as well as the retired. Experience includes teaching, law enforcement and homemaking.
Executive Director Mariel S. Hufnagel said, “It is a great moment when these committed individuals, who have decided to become a Designated Special Advocate of the Court, face the judge as they do today, as the culmination of the weeks of intensive training.Being a CASA volunteer is a tremendous commitment, and as these individuals raised their hand and swore, pride and joy were evident.
Terry Gould, Advocate Liaison on the Board of Trustees, said, “I have volunteered my whole life and found my work at CASA most rewarding because, even my youth at CASA was aged outside of the system, our friendship is forever.It brings me so much pleasure to see him beat the odds.He survived.These new backers are ready to hit the ground and I run so much with them and the adventure in the future! ”