CASA CONNECTOR
PROFILE OF 2019 CASA VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR IN GEORGIA & NATIONAL CASA VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR, JEFF SPRINKLE
Fall 2019
Please take a moment to read thoughts from Jeff Sprinkle, the 2019 CASA Volunteer of the Year in Georgia as well as the 2019 National CASA Volunteer of the Year. Jeff volunteers with Northeast Georgia CASA, headquartered in Toccoa. He has been a CASA volunteer for 10 years. Additionally, he served as a board member of Northeast Georgia CASA for three of those years.

How did you learn about CASA? What made you want to become involved?
I knew about the CASA program because of work I did while serving on a Citizens Review Panel for Judge Jackson in Forsyth County. I did not get involved with the CASA organization until I moved to Rabun County ten years ago. Having known a little about the CASA program, and the positive impact their volunteers had on serving children in foster care, it was an easy ‘yes’ when Melissa Barrett, the CASA program director, called and asked me if I was interested in serving as a CASA volunteer for the Mountain Judicial Circuit in Clayton.

I have worked for several organizations over the past twenty years that mentor and advocate for children, and the impact a CASA has on influencing children and their families in a positive way has been the most life changing experience for me.

What qualities do you think are important to have as a CASA volunteer?
Respect, dignity, and grace are the first three words I write on the inside of my file folder for new cases. As a CASA volunteer, I have learned the following:
  • We should respect each and every child by acknowledging their personal story.
  • Dignity reminds us that we must represent a child in a way that honors them.
  • Grace gets us through those tough times when the child needs the assurance that someone is on their side.

What has been your greatest challenge as a CASA volunteer?
Being patient with the child welfare process has been – and continues to be – my biggest challenge. While new laws and DFCS procedures have been put in place to assure that a child spends minimal time in foster care, the amount of time it takes to reunify a family or arrange an adoptive, forever home for a child takes entirely too long.
 
Of late, judges, SAAGs (Special Assistant Attorney General), DFCS (Department of Family and Children Services), and other interested parties have been working together to address this issue. New procedures and checks and balances are being implemented to assure that our children spend as little time as possible in foster care.

What has been your greatest success as a CASA volunteer?
I know that I cannot take away the hurt and pain a child feels while they are in foster care, but I can help create opportunities where they are included, cared for, and loved on. As a CASA, I measure success based on how well I am able to interact and engage with other stakeholders to make sure all the needs of the child for whom I advocate are being met.

Briefly tell about a CASA case you've had.
On my very first case as a CASA, I had the privilege of being introduced to a very special family. Unfortunately, at the time, the family was in the middle of the worst possible family nightmare. Basically, anything that could go wrong … did. The wheels totally ran off the wagon for the family when DFCS decided to take their children into custody. While traumatic for everyone, this one single event put the family on a path of healing and recovery. In partnership with DFCS, Mom and Dad were quickly introduced to service providers that were able to provide resources that helped them to start rebuilding their lives.

Fast forward ten years and you will find a family where Mom and Dad now own their own home. They both work two jobs. The younger children are doing well in school and the older children are preparing to move on to higher education and gainful employment opportunities.

For personal motivation, I have purposely stayed in touch with this family and have been overwhelmed with their acts of kindness and their willingness to give back. Recently, Dad’s adult brother, who has special needs and requires 24/7 care, needed a new home. Mom and Dad not only bought a home for the brother, but all of them, children included, help manage the much-needed 24/7 care for him.

Is there anything else you'd like to say?
When I became a CASA, I thought I would be doing all the giving and serving. But like so many things we do to help others, I have become a better person and feel truly blessed and humbled by my experiences as a CASA.
Jeff Sprinkle pictured with Georgia CASA Board Chair Kip Lynch, Georgia CASA Executive Director Jennifer King & Northeast Georgia CASA Executive Director Melissa Barrett

Jeff Sprinkle pictured with Gov. Kemp and team members from Georgia CASA & Northeast Georgia CASA
SOCIAL MEDIA SPOTLIGHT:
5,000+ LIKES REACHED ON GEORGIA CASA FACEBOOK PAGE
We are excited to announce the Georgia CASA Facebook page now has 5,000+ likes! Thanks to the support of people like you, we have exponentially grown our social media presence, reach, and engagement over the past several years.

We have initiated Facebook ads and boosts over the past few months as part of the national branding campaign, Change a Child's Story. Be sure to look for our ads and share them with your friends and contacts! We will continue to grow our social media presence. Thank you for your continued support. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, InstagramTwitter, and/or YouTube.
AFFILIATE NETWORK HIGHLIGHTS
Congratulations to the following people associated with the CASA network in Georgia for their recent appointments:
  • Judge Shondeana C. Morris, Board Chair of DeKalb County CASA - State Department of Family & Children Services (DFCS) Board
  • Susie Weller, Executive Director of Children First (sponsoring agency for Athens-Oconee CASA) - State DFCS Board
  • Judge Juliette Wilshire Scales, Fulton County Juvenile Court - President of the Council of Juvenile Court Judges in Georgia
  • Susanna Patterson, Executive Director of Central Georgia CASA (Macon) - scholarship from National CASA for Child Welfare Law and Policy Program at Loyola University Chicago School of Law
Judge Morris with Gov. Kemp.
Susie Weller (left of Gov. Kemp) with family, board members, CASA staff & volunteers
THANK YOU, DONORS!
Thank you to our donors who supported the work of Georgia CASA for summer 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
November 13-15: The Summit: Georgia's Child Welfare Conference (Alpharetta)
November 19-21: Training of the Facilitator (Macon)
February 13, 2020: CASA Day at the Capitol (Atlanta)
February 25, 2020: Preview Party to the Luncheon & Fashion Show (Buckhead)
August 8, 2020: Georgia CASA State Conference (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 Association