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Columbia Gorge CASA recognized the contributions of their volunteer advocates at the nonprofit’s Volunteer Appreciation Celebration held at the Sunshine Mill on November 10th. CASA’s team of volunteers serve as the voice of children in foster care.

A highlight of the event was the presentation of the inaugural Susan Erickson Award for Excellence to Debbie Mayer.

“Debbie is more than deserving of this award for excellence,” said Program Coordinator, Leah Campbell. “She has been an advocate for over 14 years and advocated for 16 children. On her current case, she has advocated for this child off and on for over five years. In court, she is precise, organized, knowledgeable, and eloquent in her report and her remarks. She has the courage to speak up when needed and the wisdom to know when to do so and when to wait. She is passionate about her advocacy and dedicated to the children she serves.”

Two other awards were given out in addition to the Susan Erickson Award for Excellence, which was named after CASA’s previous executive director who served in the role for over a decade. Steve White was awarded with Outstanding Advocacy and Brandi Pickens was awarded with Rookie of the Year!

“Our program would not be able to advocate for the abused and neglected children of our community without the dedication of our volunteer advocates,” said Executive Director Christopher Janetzko. “Since July of 2021, our trained volunteers have collectively provided over 1,500 hours advocacy and driven over 10,000 miles to advocate for the children of Hood River, Wasco, and Sherman Counties.”

Columbia Gorge CASA recruits, trains, and supports community volunteers to advocate for the best interest of children in foster care. CASA’s next training session for new volunteers is expected to start in February of next year.

Photo: Former Executive Director Susan Erickson presents Debbie Mayer with the Susan Erickson Award for Excellence.

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