CASA CONNECTOR
BRIEF VIDEO: BECOMING A CASA VOLUNTEER
IN GEORGIA
Winter 2020
Georgia CASA recently produced a 6-minute video, similar to a virtual CASA volunteer orientation, that informs viewers about becoming a CASA volunteer in Georgia. If you, or someone you know, is interested in learning more about the CASA volunteer opportunity in our state, please watch and share! Click here to view.
GEORGIA CASA'S SIGNATURE FUNDRAISER EVENT
COMING UP MARCH 24 IN ATLANTA
Join us for our 16th annual Luncheon & Fashion Show - CASA on the Catwalk - on Tuesday, March 24th at a private club in Buckhead. This fun and fashionable event will honor the Kappa Alpha Theta Atlanta Alumnae Chapter. With CASA as its national philanthropy, the Atlanta Alumnae Chapter of Thetas has been a generous, long-standing, and faithful supporter of Georgia CASA. Alumnae members have been critical to the continued success of Georgia CASA.

The event includes a seated luncheon, women's fashions from Lilly Pulitzer, and many fabulous silent auction items up for bidding. Deidra Dukes of FOX5 will emcee. Sponsorships, table hosts, and individual seat packages are available. Please visit the event website for additional details and to make your purchases!
CASA VOLUNTEER HELPS YOUNG GIRL FIND PERMANENT HOME WITH GRANDPARENTS IN GUATEMALA
Melissa Zgonc, CASA volunteer with Cobb County CASA, recently was part of an exciting journey involving the young girl she served on her first case. She honed her Spanish skills and worked to secure a Special Immigrant Juvenile Status visa for a young teen mom when she learned of a young child's desperate need for a CASA volunteer. This child from Guatemala, with a rare, chronic neurological condition, was abandoned by her mother at a school in Georgia. Melissa volunteered to take on this case as she had become familiar with resources for undocumented children and believed, if nothing else, she could simply be there for this child while she was in foster care. Melissa attended multiple meetings and had conversations with the Guatemalan Consulate. She stayed in constant communication with the child’s grandparents in Guatemala, even making extra visits to facilitate video calls between the child and her family. Melissa attended neurology and physical therapy appointments to understand this child’s condition, development, and needs. She worked with people in the community to seek a donation for a new wheelchair for the child. Melissa contacted medical flights and airlines to figure out the best options for the child to reunify with her family.

In early January, the young girl was reunified with her grandparents in Guatemala! She was accompanied by her CASA volunteer Melissa, her DFCS case manager, and Georgia DFCS Director Tom Rawlings on a complimentary Delta Airlines flight. Thanks to the investment they all had in her well-being, she is doing well in her home country!
Congratulations to the 2020 CASA Volunteer of the Year in Georgia, Vicki Hellums with Piedmont CASA!

She will officially be awarded at the Georgia CASA Conference on August 8th.
We also send congratulations to the following nominees:

Elizabeth Ard (Floyd County CASA)
Carolyn Burress (CASA of Forsyth County)
Kathy Cothran (Northeast Georgia CASA)
Gloria Fallings (Towaliga CASA)
Gwen Foster (Ocmulgee CASA)
Faye Gries (CASA of Houston County)
Will Holmes (Athens-Oconee CASA)
Janice Latoza (CASA Cherokee)
Kimberly Martin (Bartow County CASA)
Christine (Chris) Martinez (CASA of the Appalachian Judicial Circuit)
Lisa McCulloch (Hall-Dawson CASA)
Sharon McGovern (CASA of the Augusta Judicial Circuit)
Carmella Mercer (Coastal Plain CASA)
Kathryn Miles (Rockdale CASA)
Christine Rathod (TLC CASA)
Mary Starck (DeKalb County CASA)
Barbara Strickland (Chattahoochee CASA)
Marla Tucker (Murray/Whitfield CASA)
Robert Walker (Enotah CASA)
Valerie Zanders (Clayton County CASA)
Melissa Zgonc (Juvenile Court of Cobb County/CASA)
WELCOME TO NEW GEORGIA CASA TEAM MEMBER
Welcome to Ayaan Forstall! She joined the Georgia CASA team on January 6th as the Program Services Coordinator, a newly created position. Ayaan received her Bachelor of Arts in Human Service Studies from Elon University. She has worked at Youth Villages, Future Foundation, and most recently with C5 Georgia Youth Foundation as Community Action Program Director. While completing her Masters of Social Work from Georgia State University, Ayaan interned in the Early Learning and Development Program with United Way of Greater Atlanta and Empowerment Resource Center.

Ayaan will work in facilitating Georgia CASA trainings for our network of affiliates, providing support to our affiliates, and promoting quality assurance across the CASA network.
BEST WISHES TO JUDGE PEGGY WALKER, DOUGLAS COUNTY JUVENILE COURT, UPON HER RETIREMENT
As we celebrate Judge Peggy Walker’s recent retirement as the Douglas County Juvenile Court Judge, we also look forward to what’s ahead for Judge Walker and her dedication to strengthening the child welfare system. In her 30 years of service, Judge Walker has been a leader, champion, and advocate for children and families. As juvenile court judge, she embraced her leadership role in convening and spearheading efforts that increased resources, services, and supports for all families in the community. With a particular emphasis on families with children birth to three, Judge Walker led efforts in her court and county to address the specific needs of children before her court. Her work in this area expanded to include pre-natal supports and services for women and their families. A consummate teacher, Judge Walker never passed up the opportunity to share knowledge and resources and opening her court to observers, researchers, and advocates.

As a graduate of Georgia College, she was a teacher in Clayton and Fulton counties before enrolling in the first class at Georgia State University’s College of Law. In 1986, she graduated with her Master’s Degree in Education and a Juris Doctorate of Law. From 1990 to 1998, she acted as the Associate and Judge Pro Tempore in the Juvenile Court of Douglas County. In 1998, she became the full-time Douglas County Juvenile Court Judge. She was a graduate fellow of the Zero to Three Class of 2005 and was a Senior Fellow at Emory University in 2008 where she edited a manual for judges and practitioners to promote the preservation of families. Please click here to read the rest of Judge Walker's story...

Pictured above: Sheryl Sellaway (National CASA), Angela Tyner (Georgia CASA), Judge Walker, Jennifer King (Georgia CASA) & Katy Hilbert (Children’s Voice: CASA) at Judge Walker’s Retirement Celebration, January 2020
BEST WISHES TO AVA LIPSCOMB WITH BARTOW COUNTY CASA UPON HER RETIREMENT
On January 31st, Ava Lipscomb (pictured front and center in red) retired as the Bartow County CASA Director. Ava has been a trusted colleague and friend to so many of us in the CASA network and we wanted to take this opportunity to share the impact Ava has had on our network and the larger child welfare system. We will miss her dearly but hope that she will continue to be a mentor and resource to each one of us. 

Nineteen years ago, two local Bartow County child abuse prevention leaders led efforts to bring CASA to their local community. From the onset, it was clear that they needed a strong, trusted and effective leader for their emerging CASA program. We feel fortunate that Ava Lipscomb took this leap of faith, sharing a belief that we all have an advocate within us. The then-Advocates for Children (sponsoring agency) Director Patty Eager described her greatest contribution to Bartow County CASA: “Hire the best director, and the rest is history.”  Please click here to read the rest of Ava's story... 
THANK YOU, DONORS!
Thank you to our donors who supported the work of Georgia CASA for fall 2019. Because of your investment, more children were provided with a CASA volunteer to amplify their voices. We truly appreciate your investment in children!


If you are not yet part of our donor group, you can give online here!
CALENDAR OF EVENTS
March 26-27: All-Volunteer Supervisor Annual Meeting & Recruiter Meet-up (Columbus)
April 14-16: Training of the Facilitator (Macon)
April 17: Advocacy Convening (Savannah)
April 28-30: Spring Council of Programs Meeting (Savannah)
May 14: Advocacy Convening (Tifton)
June 6-9: National CASA Conference (Washington, DC)
August 8: Georgia CASA State Conference (Atlanta)
September 17: Prevent Child Abuse Georgia Symposium (Atlanta)

Interested in joining us to support CASA in Georgia?
Georgia CASA | 404-874-2888 | 800-251-4012 | gacasa.org

Member of The National CASA/GAL Association for Children