CASA in Jackson County Georgia was founded by Judge Kevin Guidry right after he was appointed by the Superior court Judges, this organization is located in the courthouse. This not only looks like a duck- it smells like a duck. The word that comes to mind here is Collusion!
Annette K. Raymond
Founded in 2000 by Juvenile Court Judge Kevin Guidry and based in the Jackson County Courthouse, Piedmont CASA saw its first volunteer in 2001. CASA—Court Appointed Special Advocates—trains and supervises volunteers who provide a voice for abused and neglected children in the juvenile court in Banks, Barrow and Jackson counties. “The volunteers do what it takes to make sure the children stay safe,” said Piedmont CASA Executive Director Annette Raymond.
Raymond came on board as executive director on April 1, 2005, after a two-year stint as a volunteer in the Athens-Oconee CASA group that serves Clarke and Oconee counties. She left a higher-paying, long-term career as an office manager of a law firm in Athens because she “believes in the importance of this program.” She says her favorite part of working for CASA is getting to meet a lot of interesting people and getting to spread the message about her near-and-dear organization. She also says that, “The best recruiting (of volunteers) is done by someone who is passionate—and I am passionate!”
CASA volunteers receive a court order to investigate a particular abuse or neglect case. They talk to the people who matter most in a child’s life: family, foster parents and teachers. With the information they are able to gather from these sources they are able to report their findings to the juvenile court. It is the court order that allows them to legally investigate the child’s family life and other important aspects that play a role in the handling of each case.
Raymond is driven every day to help the children served by CASA.
“Seeing children get to go home with their (birth) parents and seeing families reunited is wonderful,” she said. Raymond and the volunteers who assist her are currently serving 49 children, a third of whom are from Jackson County. Their goal is to get children into a permanent, safe home as soon as possible. In 2006, they supported 89 children.
Raymond’s job includes recruiting and training volunteers. “We’ve heightened the awareness of what CASA does and have shown the community its importance,” she commented. They have more than doubled the volunteer base since Raymond’s entrance as executive director, growing from 12 to 28 volunteers. The current volunteer training opportunity began on July 12 and will be held every Thursday for seven weeks at the Braselton Community Center.
In her personal life, Raymond enjoys playing the piano, and even has two degrees in music. She plays the piano and organ at UGA Catholic Center in Athens and accompanies instrumentalists and vocalists. She is also an active member of the Southeastern Newfoundland Club and rescues Newfoundland dogs from Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina.
For information on Piedmont CASA visit http://www.piedmontcasa.com or call Annette Raymond at 706-387-6375.