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December Advocate of the Month: Steven DeFelice

Dawning a brown leather jacket and an offset fedora, a man walks up to you, slowly, sporting a smile. He strikes up a conversation with you about vegan recipes and his time as a ringmaster in a local Russian circus. Laughing together, he offers to help with whatever you are doing in the moment, and sets aside his responsibilities to lend a helping hand.

This snapshot is any given day with the selfless Steven DeFelice.

Always eager to go above and beyond for anyone in need, Steven was a light in our community that never failed to brighten the lives of those around him with kindness, love, compassion, and humor. He radiated graciousness into the lives of everyone he met, regardless of whether you were family or if he knew you much at all.

"Steven was a pure joy and light to everyone he met," says Salem County Advocate Coordinator Cara Zoppina. "He gave his entire being to helping others in need and found a home within Hopeloft and CASA of CGS to do just that. To say that he was proud to be a CASA is an understatement. He served two youth and helped change their lives for the better by being a constant source of positive support for them. I am grateful to have known Steve. I will miss his laughter and our chats but he will forever be a CASA angel."

In general and as a CASA volunteer, Steven was always one of the most generous people in the room. He went to lengths to make people feel recognized and important; and made it his point to welcome new faces with a smile and a laugh, reassuring anyone and everyone that, no matter what, they belong.

“From the very first day I met Steve, his commitment to helping others and desire to advocate for children in foster care was on display like a billboard in Times Square,” says Program Director Jennifer Henderson. “His love for the community was a part of every one of his conversations. Steve set an example for each of us to go forward in our days mercifully in the service of others. His daily motivation was to be positive, love yourself, and enjoy every single second because tomorrow is never guaranteed. Because of his kind heart and genuine dedication to those who need a voice, the CASA of CGS team had named Steve the Angel of the Year for 2019. Due to the pandemic, we were sadly unable to surprise Steve with his award this year. However, he left such a deep mark on each of our lives through his friendship and service that we plan to rename the annual honor the Steven DeFelice Angel of the Year Award. Steve’s compassion is contagious and it should be honored and lived continuously through each of us. His impact is now his legacy and he is truly loved and deeply missed.”

Steven was a father, an advocate, a friend, and a man of endless talents, including, but not limited to: actor, photographer, musician, and stand-in Santa Claus. His vibrant personality lit up every room he walked into, and his kind soul will be deeply missed. We love you Steven. We miss you. You were one of a kind, and you are forever in our hearts. You will always be our CASA Angel.

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