Congratulations to the Advocate of the Month for July: Ellen Fennick!
Traveler, Choral Singer, and CASA Volunteer
From the plains of Oklahoma to the Great Lakes of Michigan, there are few places across the country that Ellen Fennick has not called home over the years. But whether in Pennsylvania or Nebraska, Missouri or New Jersey, Ellen’s commitment to serving her community–wherever that community may be–has traveled alongside her.
After spending years volunteering through various congregational initiatives, something happened that sparked a change in direction for Ellen’s life. It was the early 2000s. She had just moved back to New Jersey, working as a teacher and consulting families whose children needed special education support. It was not long after her move that the devastating news broke of the boys in nearby Collingswood who were starved by their parents, rifling through neighbors’ trash cans and gnawing on wallboards for nourishment.
Upon hearing this tragedy, Ellen sprung into action. She became dedicated to advocating for children and providing the resources and support they need to live happy, safe, and fulfilling lives. And for the past 15 years, that passion for giving back to the youth of her community has been poured into her role as a CASA volunteer.
“My purpose as a CASA volunteer is to help protect these children and help their outcomes,” said Ellen. “Volunteering with CASA makes such a big difference because you are helping kids from getting lost in the system.”
Ellen began volunteering for CASA Camden in 2007, advocating for over 10 children and even stepping in as a part-time Advocate Coordinator when the county was shorthanded and in need of some extra help from longtime Camden CASA volunteers. And even after over a decade of volunteering–through all the ups and downs–she remains motivated and never forgets to celebrate the victories.
“My most memorable moment as a CASA was during my second case as a volunteer when the three little boys I advocated for were adopted,” said Ellen. “I was so happy to see them in a great situation. They’re all grown up now, and it’s such a rewarding feeling.”
Her dedication to helping as many youth in the foster care system as possible extended even further in 2019 when Ellen was gracious enough to take on a case outside of Camden in Salem County for a young adult with special needs.
“With her professional background, Camden CASA felt that Ellen would be an asset to this young adult in Salem, and Ellen kindly offered her services to our program at CASA of CGS,” said Salem County Advocate Coordinator Cara Zoppina. “Since then, Ellen has been a voice for her CASA youth, showing up for her every month to visit her consistently and attending her quarterly treatment meetings to ensure that she is receiving all the services and care she needs. Ellen’s CASA youth will need to receive care for the rest of her life and Ellen goes above and beyond to make sure that things are moving in the right direction before she ages out of the foster care system.”
We are so lucky to have someone as experienced, devoted, and caring as Ellen on our team. We have cherished the past few years working with her. She always goes the extra mile to ensure that her CASA youth is receiving the absolute best care and support possible, and we know that each day she is making a world of difference in not only her CASA youth’s life, but in our lives and the lives of everyone in our community. Thank you, Ellen, for everything you do–your hard work never goes unnoticed!