PORTSMOUTH — Recently, Scioto CASA hosted CASA Day in Ohio to celebrate the work of CASAS in Scioto County.
CASAS are trained through a 36-hour pre-service Guardian Ad Litem training and then sworn in by Judge Alan Lemons. CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocate, these are ordinary everyday people willing to stand up for children in extraordinary ways. Scioto County Executive Director Cortney Reiser, Ohio CASA employee Kalei Edenfield and newly appointed CASA Volunteer Supervisor Hannah Hanks hosted the event at Shawnee State. As of that date, there were 49 active CASA volunteers in the county, who received specific recognition of their efforts at the event.
CASA volunteers are appointed to children who have experienced abuse and neglect and are tasked with representing their best interest. CASA volunteers ensure that all children’s voices are heard and they are guided by the principle that all children deserve safety, stability and permanency in a loving home.
During the event, Judge Alan Lemons thanked the CASAs for their passion and dedication to the children of Scioto County. Judge Lemons shared that he hopes to see this program continue to grow, and looks forward to their continued appointment. He stated that the work CASA volunteers do is detailed, thorough and impressive.
Executive director of Scioto County, Cortney Reiser spoke about the passion and service the CASAS give to their cases as well. Director of Ohio CASA Doug Stephens was also in attendance and echoed the commitment of growth and the overall mission of appointing every child in foster care a CASA volunteer. Mr. Stephens thanked the program for it’s rapid growth by committing to providing funding for a new Scioto CASA Volunteer Supervisor, Hannah Hanks which will provide the opportunity for even more CASAs to be appointed. Scioto CASA commissioner Scottie Powell was in attendance and also expressed his appreciation of the CASA volunteers and Ohio CASA.
Reiser honored all 49 volunteers but gave a special shoutout to three very important people in the Scioto County CASA program.
Summer Claxon received Volunteer of the Year award for Scioto CASA for the exemplary work she did on her CASA case this year. Ms. Reiser shared examples of how Summer advocated for the children on her caseload and sacrificed many hours with her own family in order to ensure these children were well taken care of and gave them hope that their family could persevere through devastating circumstances.
Reiser expressed her gratitude to Claxon and her family for the commitment she made to represent these children’s best interests in a very dark time in their lives. Claxon’s bright light and hope to this family made a significant impact. Scioto County is lucky to have her serve as a child advocate.
Reiser also honored long time child advocate, Connie Fried, who retired from the Scioto CASA program earlier this year. Fried has been a child advocate since 2008, but she was instrumental in starting Scioto County’s CASA program with previous executive director Kenya Johnson. Fried saw the need for this program and worked endlessly to make sure the right people knew how the opioid epidemic was affecting Scioto County children. Fried has advocated for many children throughout her career and is an upstanding pillar of this community.
Reiser also recognized Sophie Knight, who finished her role as a student volunteer. Knight is a new graduate of South Webster Highschool but spent much of her senior year volunteering for the Scioto CASA program. Knight will be attending Loyola College in New Orleans in the fall and the program is excited to see what she does next.
Scioto CASA is appreciative of the generosity of our Court Appointed Special Advocates and are so thankful for the community’s continued support of the program.