June Volunteer of the Month – Shannon Horton

unnamedThe Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program of the Second Judicial District has selected Shannon Horton as its Volunteer of the Month for May 2017.  Horton has served as a CASA volunteer since January 2017. Volunteers serve as sworn officers of the court, and help to investigate and gather information on cases when children are removed from a home due to abuse or neglect.

 

“I had been thinking about becoming a CASA volunteer for years, but I wanted to wait until my child was older, so I would have more time to invest. I knew this year was the perfect timing for me, mentally and situationally. I am passionate about working with children and wanted to be a voice for a child,” Horton said.

 

Jerri Mae Willis, Horton’s Advocate Coordinator said Horton worked hard to get a sibling group placed with a grandmother out of state. “That took calling the ICPC people in the grandmother’s state and in Little Rock and staying on top of it. Instead of it taking six months for this process, she and the DHS Program Assistant got this done in two short months; she called and emailed both states until they made it happen!”

 

When asked what surprised her most about her volunteer experience with CASA, Horton states, “It has actually surprised me how much the skills I use at work are being used here in my volunteer work: the researching, the investigating, the need to stay organized and on top of things.” Horton added, “It is such a cool feeling to see the hard work you put in advocating for these children. To see them taken care of, to see them happy; it feels like something I have never felt before. It is indescribable. They slowly just become your children and that’s my job, to do everything I can to protect these children.”

Horton is from Jonesboro, Arkansas. She enjoys hanging out with her husband and son when she is not volunteering with CASA.

May Volunteer of the Month – Jerry Wilcox

Jerry WilcoxThe Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program of the Second Judicial District has selected Jerry Wilcox as its Volunteer of the Month for April 2017.  A retired teacher and pastor, Wilcox has served as a CASA volunteer since October 2016.

 

“My wife, Cathey, was a volunteer for a year when I decided to become one too. I knew she was traveling a lot for her case and I thought if I became a volunteer too, I could travel with her and could help her out on her case.”Wilcox enjoyed working alongside of his wife; he eventually decided to take a case of his own. “My first case went very well. I was able to be a big help for the judge, the child, and the family. Now I am taking my second case and am working with a teenager.”

 

“Jerry worked his first case diligently and with immediate interest.  The case had many complications with all the different people involved.  He sorted through all of this and continually kept the interest of his child in mind. I never had to remind him to visit his child, never had to refocus his efforts or redirect his purpose.  He is a natural advocate that uses his life experiences and our training to guide him to the best solutions,” says Wilcox’s Advocate Coordinator, Michael Graham.

 

When asked what surprised him the most about his volunteer experience with CASA, Wilcox states, “the positive response from the people involved in the case surprised me; everyone genuinely wanted to help. I was also surprised to see how overburden the department is with so many cases and so few people to work the system.” Wilcox realizes there is a need out there for people to work with these children in the foster care system. “Anyone who has a genuine concern for children should investigate on how to become a CASA Advocate. I do not have to take any case, but I can choose to take a case that is requested of me and that is big on volunteering.”

 

Wilcox is from Black Oak, Arkansas. He retired from pastoring churches in Arkansas in 2014 and retired from teaching school in Trumann in 2006. His wife Cathey is an Advocate Coordinator for Poinsett County and they have three children and six grandchildren.