CASA of Union County Graduates New Class of Volunteers

(above) Sworn in as judiciary volunteers by Superior Court Judge James Hely via Zoom with newly named Judge Stacey Boretz looking on are Phil Newcomb of Cranford; Jason Fermin of Linden; Juliann Ford of Roselle Park; Jayme Lipkin and Neetu Salhotra of Short Hills; Amanda O’Dowd of Summit and Dawn Saunders of Warren.

CASA Of Union County May Volunteers

CASA of Union County

The most recent class of community members – seven volunteers representing six municipalities including Phil Newcomb of Cranford, Jason Fermin of Linden, Juliann Ford of Roselle Park, Jayme Lipkin and Neetu Salhotra of Short Hills, Amanda O’Dowd of Summit and Dawn Saunders of Warren. Sworn in as advocate for foster youth – volunteers have completed 30 hours of training to become advocates for CASA of Union County, the only nonprofit advocating for the best interests of abused, neglected or abandoned youth removed from home and placed in foster care through no fault of their own.

Next, the new advocates will be matched to a foster youth or sibling set and, once legally assigned to their case by court order, can make arrangements to meet their assigned youth and begin their casework. This class ranges in age from 34 to 63 and includes both parents and nonparents, and those employed as well as retired. Experience includes teaching, law enforcement and homemaking.

Executive Director Mariel S. Hufnagel noted, “It’s such a wonderful moment when these dedicated individuals, who have made the decision to become Court Appointed Special Advocates, face the judge as they did today, as the culmination of weeks of intensive training. Being a CASA volunteer is a tremendous commitment, and as these individuals raised their hand and took their oaths, the pride and joy was palpable.”

Terry Gould, Advocate Liaison on the Board of Trustees, added, “I have volunteered my entire life and found my CASA work most rewarding because, although my CASA youth has aged out of the system, our friendship will be forever. It brings me great pleasure to see him beat the odds. He is a survivor. These new advocates are ready to hit the ground running and I am beyond excited for them and the adventure ahead!” 

Since 2005, CASA of Union County has served more than 900 local foster youth and trained more than 600 advocates. With court-ordered access to the youth, foster parents, doctors, caseworkers, therapists, teachers and others in order, advocates identify concerns and unmet needs, and ensure best interests are protected.

There are still youth in need of their own CASA volunteer. Is that you? For details on the advocate experience and the steps to securing your spot in an upcoming training class, reach out to

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