FRANKLIN— On Tuesday, Feb. 26 the Williamson County Juvenile Court system recognized 11 community members and their work with Williamson County CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate). The volunteers were sworn in by Judge Sharon Guffee, who is familiar with the non-profit organization’s mission to advocate for abused and neglected children in the county court system. Williamson County CASA Program Director Barbara Tierno said that the character of this particular set of volunteers have been of great encouragement to her.

“This group of advocates is one of the closest groups I have had in my four years of experience training our CASAs,” she said. “They seemed to have formed a really strong bond with one another and are extremely thorough and empathetic.”

Each year, hundreds of Williamson County children are brought before the court; reasons range from abuse and neglect to complete abandonment. CASA independently trains its volunteer members to investigate these children’s situations, and report back to the court with their findings. CASA’s ultimate goal is that each Williamson County child find a safe and permanent home.

Volunteers undergo 30 hours of training and three hours of court observation prior to standing before a judge. Once completed, each member goes before Judge Guffee to swear an oath to represent and advocate for the community's most vulnerable children.

This is the first Williamson County CASA training group in 2013, and includes individuals from various professions and community groups. Director of Development and Public Relations Danielle McMorran said because of the sensitive nature of the volunteer work, the organization looks for individuals with certain attributes.

“CASA is run largely on volunteers, and without them our work could not be done,” she said. “Because of particular situations and what many caseloads entail, we look for someone who can maintain composure in crisis, is able to work with a wide range of people—from medical and school professionals to inmates—and those who have the ability to suspend personal judgments from decisions handed to judges.”

The next training class will begin in May 2013. For more information about volunteering with Williamson County CASA, or how to make a donation, call (615) 591-2699 or visit www.WilliamsonCountyCASA.org.

(left to right).  Danielle McMorran (Director of Development and Public Relations), Vanessa Bonner (volunteer advocate), Susan Wade (volunteer advocate), David Greer (volunteer advocate), Andrea Walter (volunteer advocate), Judge Sharon Guffee (Williamson County Juvenile Court Judge), Karen Beauchene (volunteer advocate), Michele Marx (volunteer advocate), Audrey Freshwater (Advocate Supervisor), Dale Buford (volunteer advocate), Marcia Nordstrom (volunteer advocate), Adrianna Coranado (volunteer advocate), Donna Dressler (volunteer advocate), Claudia Zanolini (volunteer advocate), and Barbara Tierno (Program Director).

More About Williamson County CASA Williamson County CASA serves our most vulnerable citizens—our children. CASA undermines crises when the basic rights of these children are being violated, oftentimes because their own family does not provide the needed love, sustainability and protection for them. Williamson County CASA stands up for these children and gives them the voice they deserve. CASA advocates for their right to be safe, to be loved, to have friends and live in a home with a real family so they can thrive.

Kat Caire