This month’s volunteer spotlight falls on Susan Felsen, who in her 6+ years as a CASA Volunteer has advocated for 13 children. Susan is currently working on her 12th case, which opened in August 2016.
Susan is no stranger to working on behalf of children. After a 34-year career as a Speech Language Specialist in a public school, she trained to become a volunteer advocate.
“I feel that it is very important to volunteer in my community. After I retired, I knew I was going to miss children, so the CASA organization was a perfect match. Being a CASA, I have an opportunity to ‘give back,’” Susan said.
Susan noted the importance of appearing to her CASA children as separate from their Law Guardians and the Division of Child Permanency and Protection (DCP&P). “I have been able to convey to the children that I work for them, and don't get paid any money,” she said.
With so many cases under her belt, Susan has certainly had a variety of experiences with different families, resource homes, case workers, health professionals, education specialists, and other parties involved in the life of the child. 6 of her cases ended in reunification with birth parents, 5 ended in adoption, and in 1 case the child aged out of foster care.
In thinking back on her cases, Susan pointed to one that she felt made a particular impact. “The child had been abused by one parent, and the other parent could not protect the child. The child and I became quite close, and they were comfortable opening up to me and sharing some very pertinent facts that I was able to include in my Court Reports. The child was adopted by a wonderful family and now has a very bright future,” she said.
Case Supervisor Penni Nafus praised Susan for her steadfast dedication and extraordinary work. “She is the consummate professional in her interactions with resource parents, supervisors, case workers, lawyers and anyone involved with her CASA child. She is exceptional in her abilities, engagement, and execution of her responsibilities-the ideal volunteer,” Penni said.
With regards to being a CASA volunteer, Susan feels the experience has genuinely enriched her life. “Being a CASA volunteer has been a blessing. I get so much more out of it then I put in to my cases,” she said. “I feel that I am able to make a difference in my cases' lives, and help (the children) at a most difficult time.”
She added, “when times are difficult, the CASA Case Supervisors are always there to offer encouragement and guidance. I hope other individuals will give the CASA organization some thought. It is a great place to volunteer and make a difference.”
Thank you, Susan, for your tireless efforts as a CASA Volunteer and for positively touching the lives of so many vulnerable children in our community.