CASA of NH celebrates 26 years

BEDFORD – Wednes­day, June 17, was an evening of inspiration for CASA of New Hampshire as it capped its 26th year with its annual celebration honoring CASA advocates and community partners for their dedication to improving the lives of the state’s abused and neglected children.

In addition to honoring 41 advocates for milestone years of service – 26 five-year advocates, nine 10-year ad­vocates and six 15-year ad­vocates – CASA also award­ed its honorees for its second annual Judge of the Year Award – Susan Ashley, out of Rochester Family Court – and third annual John McDermott Champion of Children Award – Kristy Lamont, permanency plan­ning coordinator for the Court Improvement project.

CASA recognized three people who are stepping down after numerous years on the board of directors: Gerri Moriarty, of Hollis; Patty Tollner, of Nashua; and Lynn Photiades, of Bedford.

It also welcomed five new members to the board: Judy Bergeron, of Portsmouth; Arthur Bruinooge, of Hollis; Kathy Christensen, of Am­herst; Benjamin Gaetjens-Oleson, of Lancaster; and Linda Lovering, of Mer­edith.

"Tonight, we celebrate another year of hard work, a year of brilliant success­es and challenges beyond measure," CASA CEO and President Marty Sink said in her opening remarks to the more than 200 volunteers, family, friends and colleagues present.

"We celebrate the com­mitment of hundreds of people, past and present, and their tireless advocacy."

Two former CASA youths who spoke to the guests earned standing ovations as they shared their successes that have been marked by the guidance of the CASAs in their lives.

Dakota, 19, proudly shared that despite believing at 16 that she had little hope for a successful future, she is entering her sophomore year of college in large part be­cause of the encouragement she earned from her CASA advocate and foster family.

Madison, 17, was ad­opted just hours before the event at Manchester Coun­try Club, and shared that he is bound for New York City next year to attend college, a dream he didn’t know he had until he foundstability with his adoptive family.

Both teens expressed their sincere gratitude not only to their advocates, but to the judges on their cases who they said took great care and consideration when listening to what they wanted for their futures.

In his remarks, before swearing in CASA’s new­est advocates, Edwin Kelly spoke to the importance of his duty and the duty of the state’s other judges to examine the facts of the case and make decisions based on the best information that can be gathered.

"The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind world that it leaves to its children," Kelley said, quot­ing Dietrich Bonhoeffer. "Every person in this room is meeting that challenge day after day after day."

For more information about CASA, visit casanh.org or call 1-800-626-0622.