By: Jennifer Henderson, Follow South Jersey Contributing Writer
SOUTH JERSEY — In August 2022, Cathy Brackin embarked on a new journey as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer. With an extensive background as an attorney representing Social Security Disability and SSI claimants for 37 years, Cathy brought a wealth of knowledge about medical conditions, legal matters, and most importantly, a heart full of compassion for children.
Cathy’s professional experiences equipped her with a deep understanding of various medical conditions, both physical and mental. Her familiarity with medical terminology and medical records was a valuable asset as she navigated the complex world of advocating for abused and neglected children. However, what truly sets Cathy apart is her genuine love for her child clients. With a son who went through the special education process and received disability support, Cathy intimately knows the challenges faced by children with unique needs and their families. This personal journey granted her invaluable empathy, which she channels into her role as a CASA.
“Since joining CASA what I’ve learned is that when trauma is deep-seated, love is not enough. It takes specialized therapeutic interventions. A CASA is there to provide needed stability to help form a foundation,” Cathy wisely notes. Beyond her extensive legal knowledge, Cathy’s dedication to community involvement and cultivating meaningful relationships is genuinely awe-inspiring. Her active leadership in children and family ministries at her church reflects her immense satisfaction in witnessing generations of parents, grandparents, and even great-grandparents engage in faith-centered activities with children. This nurturing inclination naturally extends to her role as a CASA, where she embraces the opportunity to create a positive impact in the lives of her young clients and their families. In her leisure time, she finds enjoyment in camping, hiking, reading, and wholeheartedly participating in church and family ministries.
Cathy’s remarkable contributions have garnered well-deserved recognition. In 2022, she received the esteemed title of “Debbie Sulkin New Advocate of the Year.” This prestigious accolade stands as a testament to her selfless commitment and the remarkable influence she’s had on her community and the child she supports. From the outset of her advocacy journey, Cathy proactively raised awareness about the imperative need for CASA volunteers. Moreover, she orchestrated a highly successful ice cream social event at her church, Holy Family Episcopal Church, effectively raising funds for the Give a Child Hope Fund.
Michele, Gloucester’s Senior Advocate Coordinator, praises Cathy’s unwavering commitment, saying, “I am inspired by Cathy’s commitment to her CASA youth and CASA program. She is a steady presence both physically and collaterally making sure no stone is unturned to ensure the challenging youth receives the help and necessary support to steady the difficult circumstances he faces. It is a pleasure working with and learning from Cathy.”
Cathy’s own words capture her CASA journey eloquently: “There are many worthy nonprofits who could use volunteers, but CASA is unique. The person you’re helping is right there in front of you. It’s not just a one and done. It’s a privilege to journey alongside my CASA youth as he re-writes his story.”
Her impact extends beyond her immediate role as well. Cathy’s encouragement for fellow CASA volunteers to share their message has had a ripple effect.She herself has inspired others beyond her immediate CASA circle. Cathy’s contagious enthusiasm for the CASA mission inspired her insurance agent to become a CASA volunteer in Philadelphia, proving the power of leading by example.
Cathy’s unwavering commitment has undoubtedly etched an enduring impression on the lives she reaches, demonstrating the profound impact of every modest effort and advocacy in a child’s world. As put by Beatriz, Gloucester Advocate Coordinator, “Being able to witness Cathy’s journey as a CASA has been a wonderful and fulfilling experience. Cathy’s work ethic and determination to ensure her CASA child always knew he would not be alone is remarkable. Cathy wasted no time jumping on a case and making a difference in a child’s life who has experienced so much inconsistency and trauma. Thank you Cathy for your support towards our program and the impact and difference you are making in your CASA child’s life. We are all blessed to have you!”
Cathy’s journey as a CASA volunteer showcases the transformative power of empathy, knowledge, and unwavering dedication. As she continues to rewrite the story of the child she advocates for, Cathy stands as a shining example of how one person’s commitment can truly change lives.
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