Franklin County CASA Executive Director Glenda Volmert has been recognized for her hard work and dedication in helping children who are in the local court system by being named the organization’s 2013 program director of the year in Missouri.
Volmert received notification of her recognition earlier this month and officially will accept her award on April 25 during the CASA Show Me Gala in Columbia.
“I appreciate getting this award, but I’m a little humbled by it,” Volmert told The Missourian this week. “There are a lot of good people here working toward a common goal. There are a lot of people here doing the work.”
CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates. It is a network of 933 community-based programs across the country, including 22 in Missouri, that recruit, train and support citizen-volunteers to advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children in courtrooms and communities.
Volunteer advocates — empowered directly by the courts — offer judges the critical information they need to ensure that each child’s rights and needs are being attended to while in foster care. The volunteers stay with children until they are placed in loving permanent homes.
For many abused children, a CASA volunteer is the only constant adult presence in their lives.
“I take pride in understanding our mission and focus on what we can do for each child in order to make a difference,” Volmert said. “If all of us understand and believe in the focus of our mission, it makes my job easier. And, we all do that here.”
Volmert has been the only director Franklin County’s CASA has ever had.
“This community was ready for CASA when we started,” she said. “As we continue to grow, I continue to be proud of the work we do. And one of the things I am most proud of is the fact that we all do work together to problem solve and help the children we deal with. We do that each and every day. ...
“If this award can help bring awareness to what we do, then I’m all for it.”
Volmert specifically mentioned her board of directors, her staff who handle caseloads and help in the office and the trained volunteers who handle the specific cases on the front lines with the children, their families and the foster homes.
“We’re all important here,” she said.
According to information from CASA, every day in this country 1,900 children become victims of abuse or neglect and four of them die.
“Glenda has worked diligently to serve the foster children and their families in Franklin County since the founding of our organization, sharing her talents and energy to motivate all of us to help kids find permanency,” Franklin County CASA board of directors President Debbie Depew said.
Depew nominated Volmert for the program director of the year award on behalf of the local board of directors. Criteria on the nomination form stated that the winner was selected “based on outstanding leadership qualities resulting in the enhanced quality of a program’s advocacy.”
“Glenda Volmert has served as the executive director of Franklin County CASA since its inception in 2006,” Depew said in her nomination. “She has brought the program from infancy to adolescence to become a mid-size CASA.”
Depew’s recommendation went on to say that under Volmert’s leadership and guidance, the local CASA chapter served 104 foster children through 53 volunteers who provided more than 3,000 hours of service last year.
Depew said the 2013 numbers represent a 20 percent increase over the year prior.
The past year “brought continued growth and stability to Franklin County CASA, thanks to Glenda’s consistent direction of both staff and volunteers,” Depew said. “Glenda seems to have unlimited positive energy, which is contagious. Her fervor for improving the lives of the foster children in our county by finding permanency is inspiring.”
Volmert was nominated for the award for the second straight year. She was a finalist last year.
“This is well-deserved,” Depew said. “The organization has grown so much since it was started in 2006, and Glenda has been the core and the rock of it all.”
Depew has been a member of the board of directors for five years. She became president last year.
“The No. 1 thing with Glenda is her passion for the cause,” Depew said. “She is very energetic, but she really believes in the kids we serve, and that shines through. It’s not just a job to her.”
Depew also said the ability Volmert has to “wear so many hats so well” is outstanding.
“She’s a social worker, she manages people and finances and has relationships with so many people,” Depew said. “She does it all. I know I couldn’t do what she does.
“These are not cases or numbers to her. These are kids. These are people’s lives. She deals with it all every day and she does a great job.”