Exciting things will be happening at CASA of Caroline in 2020. The organization elected a new slate of officers and welcomed several new board members, all of whom come with tremendous energy, ideas and visions to carry CASA into the new decade. These officers and board members were sworn in by Caroline County Circuit Court Judge Jonathan Newell at CASA’s Holiday Dinner at the Culinary Institute in Denton. After asking everyone to take an oath, Judge Newell said, “Every child who has experienced abuse or neglect should be given the opportunity to thrive in a safe and loving home. It is my honor and privilege to install you as CASA of Caroline officers and directors for 2020.”
Leading CASA of Caroline into the new decade is newly elected President Bob Friday. Bob has been involved with CASA of Caroline as both a CASA and a board member since 2008. He brings a great deal of passion for children and the entire Caroline County community. When asked what his vision is for CASA of Caroline in 2020, Bob said, “I’m excited about the future of CASA of Caroline! Having been an advocate for several years before joining the Board of Directors, I feel I have a great understanding of the challenges and opportunities CASA has in the coming year. The children that are placed into the system are there by no fault of their own and are thrown into a situation that, quite frankly, can be terrifying for them. A CASA advocate can be the only person between that child and the feeling of being lost and abandoned. My goal is to bring more awareness to the community so people can better understand and appreciate the value CASA brings and be willing to volunteer their time to give those children the care and support they deserve. Every child deserves to have someone looking out for their best interest, especially if they’ve been put into a situation like this because of abuse or neglect. It doesn’t take much to let a child know you care about them. My 2020 vision will be to encourage caring people to consider being a child’s ‘Hero’ and become a CASA advocate.”
Working alongside Bob as CASA’s Vice-President is Michael Moon. Michael is entering his second year as a board member with CASA. As General Manager of Bridges Restaurant, he brings exceptional leadership and organizational skills. He also brings his husband Jay Buchman who is the newly elected Secretary of the Board and also beginning his second year on the Board. Jay brings a great deal of technological expertise and attention to detail, both of which are integral to his job as an entomologist. He also serves on the Board of Eastern Shore Rabbit Rescue and Education Center where both men are volunteers and frequently take care of rabbits in need. When asked why they decided to volunteer their limited free time with CASA, they said, “We enjoy facilitating the real heroes in our community, the CASA youth advocates, who are the foundation of the organization.” Michael and Jay are a true power couple who care deeply about the well-being of the children, animals and all members of our community.
Rounding out the slate of newly elected officers as Treasurer is Patrick Allison. Patrick brings a wealth of non-profit experience through serving as President of the Denton Rotary as well as Executive Director of Caroline’s Agape Project which oversees the Denton Community Garden. When asked why he chose to add CASA to his many other volunteer responsibilities, Patrick said, “If you want to get things done, give it to a busy person! For 42 years I have had a heart for serving my community in any capacity I can. Jesus tells me that when ‘I serve the least of my children, I’m serving Him.’ I constantly look for opportunities that God gives me to serve Him. Now, this opportunity allows me to help those children who need an advocate to look out for what’s best for them.” It is evident Jay is committed to the Caroline County community and helping those in need.
CASA of Caroline is proud to have another power couple on the Board with Linda Friday, Bob’s wife, also bringing her expertise with non-profits. Linda has served on the CASA of Caroline Board of Directors for four years. Her experience as President of Queen Anne’s County Chamber of Commerce has made her a true asset to CASA of Caroline. When asked what serving on the board means to her, Linda said, “Volunteering for CASA is the voice for those who sometimes don’t think they have one. I’m proud to serve knowing the actions and passion we, as volunteers, have for the children of Caroline County can make a difference.”
Jeanne Rowe began her involvement with CASA of Caroline when The Honorable J. Owen Wise gave her a brochure about becoming a CASA in 2003 when he was just starting the organization. In her usual kind, compassionate way, she simply couldn’t say no when she learned how many children in our community were in need. Jeanne has been involved with CASA of Caroline for 15 years serving in numerous roles including a CASA for five children, Secretary of the Board, Treasurer of the Board, and most recently as Santa’s Elf at the Holiday Open House. Clearly Jeanne will go above and beyond to do whatever it takes to ensure the children of Caroline County have a voice. When asked why she has been so committed to CASA for so many years, Jeanne said, “Children are our future. If I can be part of a mission that supports a child in need and gives them a voice and a chance at a good future, then I have made a difference.”
Finally, CASA of Caroline could not be more thrilled to welcome Jo Ann Staples back to the organization. Jo Ann brings a unique perspective to CASA as she was the first Executive Director of CASA of Caroline when it first came into existence in 2004 under the leadership of The Honorable J. Owen Wise. When asked why she chose to return to CASA of Caroline, she said, “The CASA program is a beacon of hope for children in the foster care system. It assists the court in making sound long reaching decisions concerning the welfare of the child. I am so honored to be a member of the board and to help make a true difference in the lives of children.”
Under the governance and direction of these seven individuals, CASA of Caroline is poised to continue doing great things for the children and community of Caroline County. Visit www.carolinecasa.org and to learn more about CASA and these outstanding Caroline County residents and their 2020 vision.
Past President Brenda Walls with incoming President Bob Friday.