CASA graduates sixPublished 9:12pm Wednesday, March 21, 2012
CASSOPOLIS — Six women graduated into Court-Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) Thursday before Cass County Family Court Judge Susan Dobrich, who founded the program in 1995.
Nobody longs for a safe and loving family more than a child in foster care.
CASA volunteers, who crammed 35 hours of training into 3 1/2 weeks, are empowered by the courts to help make that dream reality.
CASAs are consistent adults in children’s lives, fighting for and protecting their fundamental right to be treated with dignity and respect.
Cass County’s is one of 24 such programs in Michigan.
Julie Hopp, of Vandalia, is the mother of a preschooler and works for Press Ganey, which helps other companies improve customer service and quality, specializing in health care. She volunteers with Council on Aging and the animal shelter.
Emma Miller, of Three Rivers, is a hairstylist with a salon in Jones. She is also a licensed emergency medical technician and firefighter.
Celia Fallon, of Birch Lake, is married and has four grown children. She recently retired from St. Mary’s College, where she was academic administrative assistant for more than 20 years.
Fallon is a volunteer mentor at a South Bend high school.
Tammy Rank, of Dowagiac, works for the post office in Berrien Springs. The mother of two is a member of the Cass County Jail Navigators. She’s going back to school to pursue a criminal justice degree.
Deloris “Dee” Herman, of Eau Claire, works in information technology with Dowagiac Union Schools. Married, with two children, she proved “quite the baker” during training. She volunteers at Christmas to help needy students and teaches adult computer classes.
Tammy Bentley, of Edwardsburg, is married and the mother of three grown children. She is regional director of STRIVE, which opened a Dowagiac office. STRIVE is a non-profit workforce development agency which helps people find and maintain jobs.
“Their unique skills and experiences are going to help them become very effective advocates for abused and neglected children,” CASA Director Jim Ward said of his fourth class.
Judy Lawrence and John Vylonis of Dowagiac are new board members.