LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – CASA of Lexington has named a pair of newer court-appointed
special advocates as Volunteers of the Month for November.
Brian Wright and Ellen Wood are recent additions to CASA of Lexington’s nearly 200 volunteers: Wood began advocating for abused and neglected children in the fall of 2019 and Wright began early in 2020.
Wright was nominated by his Volunteer Manager, Mary Beth, who said he has jumped into the work “with both feet and an unending supply of enthusiasm.”
“Brian loves a challenge, and I love having a male volunteer who welcomes the hard stuff, whether it’s a case with a lengthy history – and a pile of documents to match, an out-of-county placement or just hard-to-read tweens and teenagers,” she said. “Brian has established himself as a respected voice in court, and I often hear that the judge has quoted from his report. Brian really cares and I think that’s something the kids can sense.”
Wright said he is semi-retired and was looking for a way to contribute toward a meaningful effort when he found out about CASA of Lexington.
“I realized immediately it would be the perfect fit for me,” he said. “I’ve always been concerned about children in need and didn’t think there was anything I could do. And then CASA appeared and I was set.”
CASA volunteers spend around 10 hours a month visiting with children who are involved in family court cases due to abuse or neglect. They become role models and positive adult figures in the children’s lives, and they advocate for each child’s best interests by providing the judge with regular reports.
“This is a serious commitment, but as serious as it is, it is that much more rewarding,” Wright said. “The idea you can have a major impact on a child’s life is the absolute best feeling.”
Wood discovered CASA of Lexington when she did her practicum for a bachelor’s in social work with the nonprofit in 2019.
“I just loved the work so much and I admired the mission, so I decided that I wanted to take on a case,” she said. “It’s been super rewarding. I love getting to build relationships. With one of my kids, building a relationship over the past year has been the most amazing thing.”
Wood’s Volunteer Manager Cara said her dedication to writing very thorough reports for the judge has made a lasting impact for the children on her case.
“Ellen is generous, kind and fun,” she said. “Her ability to accept people where they are goes a long way with the children and families we serve.”
Wood said helping vulnerable kids is, for her, a great way to have direct impact on her community.
“Right now is a really crucial time. We need more CASA volunteers,” she said. “There are so many kids and families in need because of the pandemic and we need community members to step up and step into that role.”
CASA of Lexington’s trained and supervised volunteers advocate through the family court systems in Fayette, Bourbon, Woodford and Scott counties to ensure all victims of child abuse and neglect are safe and thrive in a permanent home.
Changes such as where the child lives or goes to school, changes in social workers, teachers and friends, as well as the uncertainty of what life holds, can be very overwhelming for these children.
Learn more at casaoflexington.org, by calling (859) 246-4313 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.