A total of 28 Snohomish County Office of the Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteers will receive the President’s Volunteer Service Award (PVSA) for their advocacy work in 2022.
The Office of the CASA is a volunteer-powered agency that relies on the generosity of individuals to step forward and help our community’s most vulnerable population, our children. CASA volunteers provide best-interest advocacy for children and youth who have experienced abuse or neglect as they move through the court system. CASAs follow the guiding principles of family preservation, restoration, and the understanding that each person’s family is as unique as their cultural values, history, and traditions.
Children who have a CASA volunteer advocating for their best interests are half as likely to reenter foster care, and more likely to find a safe, permanent home.
“Becoming a CASA volunteer is truly an investment of time, energy, and heart,” says Joelle Kelly, Division Manager for Snohomish County’s Office of the CASA. “Our outstanding volunteers give the gift of hope and healing that will impact a child for years to come. It’s a tremendous honor to have 28 of our CASA volunteers recognized for the many hours they give to such an important cause.”
The PVSA program recognizes the nation’s most outstanding volunteers for contributing significant amounts of time to the organizations they support. Each Snohomish County CASA volunteer who qualified is receiving a gold, silver, or bronze medallion and pin, as well as a personal thank-you letter from President Joe Biden.
According to the PVSA, the award was founded in 2003 to “recognize the important role of volunteers in America’s strength and national identity.” There are three tiers of annual recognition and a lifetime achievement award available to volunteers to earn. In 2022, twenty-one volunteers earned the Bronze PVSA for volunteering 100 hours or more, six volunteers earned the Silver PVSA for volunteering between 100 and 250 hours, and one volunteer earned the Gold PVSA for volunteering over 500 hours.
Linda Goodwin is the Gold PVSA recipient. Ms. Goodwin has been a volunteer with CASA for eight years and has represented 50 children.
The Silver PVSA recipients are (local residents noted): Emily Fountain (Edmonds), Christine Osburn (Lynnwood), Nicole Petersen, Ginny Rathburn, Renee Robinson, and Erica Wilkinson. Between them, the Silver PVSA recipients advocated for 166 abused or neglected children since beginning their volunteer work with CASA. They have more than 42 years of combined experience as CASA volunteers.
The Bronze PVSA recipients are (local residents noted): Julie Berg, Dimitri Berk, Christie Blackston, Zachary Coffee, Amanda Diffenbaugh, Peggy Estela, Kendra Fling (Lynnwood), Erica Hansen Owens, Roselie Hertzog, Brittany High, Kristina Jipson (Brier), Skyler Malan, Lily Orellana (Lynnwood), Garnet Parish (Edmonds), Anna Pasztirko, Suzanne Schmitt, Loreal Seabrook (Edmonds), Kalyani Sendil, Hillary Sieg, Jeanne Thomas, Anne Waltman, and Kenneth Weisenbach.
Snohomish County CASA is actively recruiting volunteers with diverse backgrounds and perspectives. Our immediate goal is to recruit 30 volunteers in the next 30 days. CASA training is hosted monthly and anyone interested in encouraged to apply for the next training cohort in September. The Office of the CASA hosts weekly informational sessions for community members who are interested in learning about volunteering as a CASA and helping to change a child’s story. For more information, visit snohomishcountywa.gov/CASA or email CASA@snoco.org.