|Yellowstone CASA Director Shirley Folkwein accepts the Director of the Year award from CASA of Montana Executive Director Ellen M. Bush and President Ann Gilkey. Shirley was one of four CASA people honored at the Prevent Child Abuse Conference in Missoula recently.||
Volunteer of the Year Sylvia Anderson is congratulated by CASA of Montana Executive Director Ellen M. Bush and President Ann Gilkey. Sylvia was one of four CASA honorees at the Prevent Child Abuse Conference in Missoula recently. Sylvia works with the Anaconda GAL/CASA program.
CASA Judges, Volunteer and Director of the Year Honored in Missoula
Judge Dusty Deschamps of Missoula honored two judges, a CASA Director and CASA volunteer for their hard work and commitment recently at the Prevent Child Abuse Conference.
Yellowstone CASA Director Shirley Folkwein was chosen as the Director of the Year. She was one of four people selected for special recognition this year by CASA of Montana and an independent committee of three judges.
More than 400 volunteers in 15 local programs are advocating for 1,000 children in the state's foster care system. CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates. Judges appoint CASA volunteers as Guardians ad Litem or Friends of the Court to advocate for the best interest of the child. These volunteers serve as the eyes and ears of the court to investigate and recommend action so the judge can make the right decision for a child on home placement and treatment.
Two judges instrumental in creation of CASA programs, Judge Thomas McKittrick in Great Falls with the Eighth Judicial District and Judge Jeffrey H. Langton, nominated by Bitterroot CASA in Ravalli County, were also honored. Sylvia Anderson of Anaconda was recognized as the Volunteer of the Year.
Yellowstone CASA Board Member Mike Curtis nominated Shirley Folkwein for the director award because "she is an absolute pro," he wrote. Shirley has built Yellowstone CASA over the last seven years to the point where funding is stable, the office has grown and two part-time additional staff members have been added. In Billings, she has worked tirelessly on fundraising and community outreach, often speaking to community groups and clubs.
She started a CASA golf tournament, organized a CASA Garden Party, and she has been instrumental in developing the Park-2-Park Montana benefit bike ride that goes from Glacier National Park to Yellowstone National Park. For the last two years, Shirley and her husband have helped to organize the ride with the state director in Helena.
Sylvia Anderson was named the Volunteer of the Year. Sylvia has advocated for more than 700 children in nearly 20 years as a Guardian ad Litem. Sylvia serves as the GAL Program Coordinator and assigns volunteers to cases. She is the Lead Volunteer Trainer for the program and makes herself available to offer advice and assistance to volunteers.
She is highly respected among all involved in Youth in Need Cases in the three-county area of Deer Lodge, Powell and Granite counties. She is very thorough in her work and she focuses on the needs of the child, to make sure children are in a safe and nurturing home environment. Retired Judge Mizner once stated he makes 95 percent of his decisions based on Sylvia's recommendations to his court.
Other nominees for the volunteer award include Lynn Giles of the 5th Judicial Voices for Children, Terri Schmidt of Eastern Montana CASA/GAL, Tracy Scussel of Bitterroot CASA and Cherryl Taylor of CASA Advocates for Kids in Helena.
In Great Falls, Judge McKittrick helped to begin the GAL program in Cascade County with three volunteers more than 20 years ago. When the program was developed and funding was on the line, he devoted time not required by his position because he believed in the CASA program," attorney Darcy Crum wrote. "He genuinely cares about kids."
Judge Langton also was essential in the formation of Bitterroot CASA, seeing the need for a CASA program long before being approached by community members about starting a local program, Program Director Julie Crane wrote in her nomination. He has participated in the pre-service training and screening of potential volunteers by meeting the trainees before their acceptance into the program.
Judge Langton and Judge McKittrick are just two of the many judges in Montana committed to building strong CASA programs and recruiting volunteers to help children. For more information on how you can get involved in CASA, call 866-863-2272 or e-mail Ellen M. Bush.