Check back on this page for news from our organization and stories about the impact CASA Volunteers are making in our community.



2024 Volunteer Appreciation Dinner

At CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) for Douglas County, we believe that behind every piece of advocacy lies the unwavering dedication and passion of our Volunteer Advocates. On Wednesday, April 17th, we had the honor of celebrating and recognizing these remarkable individuals at our 2nd Annual Volunteer Appreciation Dinner. 

The Volunteer Appreciation Dinner is a special occasion where we come together as a community to express our gratitude for our Volunteer Advocates' contributions. Held at Lauritzen Gardens, the evening was a reminder of the profound purpose driving our mission. 

During the dinner, we had the opportunity to honor all of CASA’s Volunteer Advocates who demonstrate their exceptional dedication and commitment to the children and families they serve every day. From their tireless advocacy efforts to their compassionate support, these volunteers exemplify the core values of CASA for Douglas County and inspire us all.  

CASA also had the privilege of hosting national guest speaker and author Andrew Bridge. He spoke about his own lived experience in the child welfare system, including his time at the MacLaren Children's Center in Los Angeles County, a facility criticized for its harsh treatment of children. Since then, Andrew’s journey of advocacy through the country has made an impact that has affected countless individuals. His words resonated deeply with all in attendance, reaffirming our commitment to our mission. 

Three specific awards were presented that evening. CASA for Douglas County was honored to present Greg Acero Lending/Fairway Independent Mortgage with the Partner of the Year Award, Kathy Williams with the Teamwork Award, and Karen McClelland as the CASA of the Year 2024. 

  • Greg Acero Lending/Fairway Independent Mortgage is the first ever recipient of CASA for Douglas County Partner of the Year for their exemplary commitment. They have volunteered in multiple ways, they continuously show willingness to help with CASA’s committees, aided in our recruitment efforts, and have had a generous fiscal impact on our organization. Their dedication and active involvement have significantly enriched our efforts and strengthened our impact in the community.  
  • Kathy Williams, the recipient of the CASA for Douglas County Teamwork Award, has been a Volunteer Advocate for 2 years. Her steadfast commitment has been pivotal in guiding the path of a complex case. Assigned to represent the youngest child after the termination of parental rights for the older siblings, Kathy remained firm in her dedication to collaboration. Through consistent communication with the entire case team, Kathy ensured that the child's path to reunification with their mother remained clear. Displaying remarkable courage, Kathy advocated not only for the child but for the mother, fostering a sense of hope and possibility where there was once doubt. With her proactive approach, she was able to help set up connections with various professionals and suggest innovative solutions. What once was a broken and divided team, came a united front working together to help support this family. 
  • Karen McClelland, the recipient of CASA for Douglas County CASA of the Year 2024, has been a Volunteer Advocate for 5 years. Her outstanding advocacy is highlighted by her tenacity. In a critical period from 2021 to 2022, Karen's efforts ensured stability for the children she served despite challenges with their adoptive home. Through her diligent CASA Reports and courtroom advocacy, Karen secured essential support for the children, including in-home therapy, a sleep study, family support services, and updated evaluations. These efforts sustained the children’s safety and stability until an adoptive home was found. 

"CASA for Douglas County has been diligent in this work for 25 years,” says Kimberly C. Barnes, Executive Director at CASA for Douglas County. “It is my hope that we stand together in our commitment to support CASA for 25 more years to omit child abuse and neglect and to safeguard a better future for children. CASA Volunteer Advocates, we thank you for your dedication!" 

The 2nd annual Volunteer Appreciation Dinner reminded us of the profound mark that CASA Volunteer Advocates have on the lives of children in the child welfare system. Their dedication, compassion, and unwavering commitment are the driving force behind our mission to ensure that every child has their voice amplified, and can achieve a safe, stable, and nurturing environment to thrive. 

To all the CASA Volunteer Advocates in Douglas County, we extend our heartfelt gratitude for your selfless service and tireless advocacy. Your work is a beacon of hope for children and families in our community, and your efforts do not go unnoticed. Your impact is truly immeasurable, and we are incredibly grateful for everything you do!