Congratulations to the Advocate of the Month for April: Kristen Hicks
Harry Potter fan and CASA advocate extraordinaire
Looking for a place to provide support to children in foster care, Kristen made the decision to join CASA in April, 2022. Since becoming a court appointed special advocate, Kristen has served on three cases, providing consistent support and advocacy for three children. She not only provides outstanding, fact-filled, reports for the court, eloquently explaining the details of the things going on within the children’s worlds, she also makes sure to include photos of the children, a personal touch that always brings life to the case.
“Working with the CASA of CGS program as a CASA advocate has been more rewarding than I could ever have anticipated. I had come to a point where I was looking to engage in something that was purposeful and allowed me to give back in a meaningful way."
"At first, I was nervous that the challenges and hardships that these children have faced would tug at my heart strings too much to be effective, but what I have found, instead, is that it motivates me to do everything I can to help make their lives better. Not every case is going to have the outcome that I hope for, but there is so much value and meaning in knowing that I have done my best to be a voice for a child in need."
"The CASA of CGS team has been incredibly helpful and supportive during my first year as an advocate and I am proud of being part of the CASA of CGS advocate team,” she says of her experience as an advocate so far.
Kristen works in collaboration with the team no matter which county she is serving in, and provides the same, solid advocacy for each child.
When asked to provide a message about Kristen's nomination, Salem coordinator Cara said, “Do you know the saying, “It takes a special type of person to do this work?” I often think of that statement with gratitude, every time I think of Kristen. Kristen exudes tenacity for never accepting unreturned emails or phone calls when it comes to her CASA girls who are medically fragile. Kristen brings incredible insight into her well written court reports. From singing songs, reading stories, or rubbing the children’s feet at her visits, her warmth and sincerity is felt. Kristen focuses on goals, next steps, and advocates for anything the children need to continue to make strides in their treatment. Thank you for choosing this mission and working alongside me and giving children a voice who literally do not have the ability to talk on their own.”
Her work always leaves an impact on the team, empowering and encouraging each of us to continue ensuring children are receiving the care they deserve. We knew Kristen was truly a special advocate when she accepted what we thought would be a lighter case and did not give up when the case quadrupled in complexity. Her professionalism, objectiveness, and determination to ensure the little girl had a parachute for her future truly made a lifelong difference.
Of her motivation, Kristen says, “Knowing that I am making a difference, big or small, in a vulnerable child’s life keeps me motivated. I was lucky to see first-hand the value of a CASA in a child’s life while my aunts were fostering and ultimately adopting from the foster care system. My aunts were able to connect me with a CASA of CGS advocate, Debbie Sulkin, to find out more about the program and I knew that this was the right volunteer opportunity for me.”
Kristen always goes the extra mile for her CASA child who requires the 24/7 care of a medical facility. She brought colored light strings, pajamas, detangle spray, clothing, and more, at the recommendation of her child's nurses to ensure she had every comfort item possible.
Gloucester coordinator Michele loves working with Kristen and says, “Kristen is a hard-working advocate that understands the intent of advocacy even in the face of adversity and when the adversity hits, Kristen does not back down. Her compassion is seen, felt, and heard for the most vulnerable of our children and I am in awe of how she handles it with perseverance coupled with mercy and grace. To say I am glad to have her on my team is an understatement and I look forward to working and growing with her in the future.”
Thank you Kristen! We are so grateful for your efforts and are proud to have you as a part of our team. You leave an impact on each and every one of us, and the advocacy you provide for the children you serve will leave an indelible mark for years to come.