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Columbia Gorge CASA recognized the contributions of its team of volunteers at the organization’s annual appreciation dinner. CASA

works with trained volunteers to advocate for the best interest of children that are involved in the court system due to having experienced abuse and neglect. Over the past fiscal year, 40 volunteers provided over 2,000 hours of advocacy for 77 children.

A highlight of the evening was when Judge Janet Stauffer shared about her experience serving as a volunteer advocate before becoming a judge. She also shared how the advocates reports and recommendations are helpful to judges in making best interest decisions on behalf of children in dependency cases. Judge Stauffer also highlighted that the consistency volunteer advocates often provide these children is incredibly valuable. Many volunteers spend years advocating for the same child.

The program also recognized Theo Parkinson as the Rookie of the Year. Parkinson received this recognition due to her self-awareness and ability to use a strength-based approach in her advocacy.

“It can at times be difficult for advocates to understand the minimal sufficient level of care and set aside personal expectations in their advocacy,” explained Program Coordinator Leah Campbell. “Theo has been able to successfully use a strength-based approach in her advocacy while still noting concerns and thinking up ways to help the family without judgment.”

That same evening the annual Susan Erickson Award for Excellence was given out to an individual--who asked not to be named--due to their perseverance, creativity, and tenacity in their advocacy.

In addition to recognizing the program’s team of volunteer advocates, Executive Director Christopher Janetzko recognized the program’s 10 members of the nonprofit’s board of directors. Janetzko also gave specific recognition to Board Chair Julie Nygaard, who has been involved with the program for over a decade.

“The consistency in Julie’s leadership over the years has been so beneficial to CASA,” expressed Janetzko. “Her final term year ends in June, but we plan to still engage Julie in our committees and through other means.”

Those interested in supporting Columbia Gorge CASA’s advocacy for abused and neglected children should visit

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