Georgia Hale of Decatur had worked with children most of her career with the Department of Mental Health.
When the invitation came to be a child advocate, she did not hesitate.
“It gives me a chance to help children get into stable situations,” said Hale, one of nine area residents who will work with Court Appointed Special Advocates of North Alabama, which organized in Decatur in April.
CASA works with Morgan County’s judicial system to get volunteers appointed as voices for children who are found in abusive or neglectful homes.
Director Manda Rivers said she was pleased with the response from people wanting to work for children.
“They (volunteers) went through 30 hours of training, and they graduated,” Rivers said.
Morgan County District Court Judge Shelly Waters administered an oath of confidentiality Tuesday to each of the volunteers.
“The most precious commodity we have is a child and our job is to offer protection of the court, and your jobs are to fill in holes where we might have some,” Waters said.
District Judge Brent Craig explained to the volunteers that the court will appoint them for mostly private dependency cases that do not involve the Department of Human Resources.
“DHR is not involved unless the (cases) go into drug court,” Craig said. CASA volunteers “will be another set of eyes. Most of the cases y’all will be involved with will be with me.”
Like Hale, other volunteers are eager to serve.
“This is something I’ve wanted to do all my life,” said Mary Ann Jermalowicz of Decatur. “Growing up with my mother, seeing frustration and what children go through, I wanted to be a voice for them. I wanted to make a difference in a child’s life. To me, it’s a gift.”
Noel Mayfield of Decatur said he has worked with children for years and, “This was a golden opportunity to get back into it.”
CASA volunteers’ duties will include doing home interviews and conferences with teachers. They will compile reports on information they gather and submit them to the judges.
CASA has an office on Fifth Avenue Southeast.
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