Dedicated CASA Honored At CASA/LA’s Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon

Los Angeles, CA, April 29th, 2015 — CASA of Los Angeles has named, Maureen Wharton as its outstanding 2015 “Volunteer of the Year.” The Volunteer of the Year is selected by a committee of program staff, board members, and volunteers from among several highly qualified candidates, who have been nominated by judicial officers or others involved in the child welfare system. The award is presented at the annual Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon, which took place Wednesday at Lumenarias in Monterey Park. Edelmen Children’s Court Judge Marguerite Downing, who nominated Ms. Wharton for the honor, presented the award.

Maureen Wharton has been a CASA volunteer since February 2006. After looking into ways in which to tutor or help foster children, a friend of Maureen’s who worked at the Department of Child & Family Services brought the organization to her attention. She has been a CASA ever since, working with five children over the years, three of whose cases are ongoing. In part, this year’s award stems from her recent efforts with a young woman who was a victim of human trafficking, advocating for her educational rights, and working with the Long Beach School system to arrange for her placement at a specialized school out of state.

“CASA means everything to me. I feel that it is one of the most important positions I’ve had in my life. I take it very seriously and it is also very gratifying when one can accomplish one task for a youth in the foster system,” said Maureen Wharton. “I was completely surprised when I learned I had won this award and I’m grateful for the honor.”

Maureen also had words of wisdom to share with other CASA volunteers. “Be consistent with the child. Don’t give up. Often the CASA volunteer is the closest thing to a family member that the child ever experiences.”

“The effort Maureen has put forth to help special needs children during her time with CASA has been nothing short of incredible,” said CASA/LA Executive Director Dilys Garcia. “And from those efforts come the tangible rewards of seeing those children blossom once they are given the chance at having a real future and a positive track for their lives.”

Maureen Wharton is a former employee of UC Irvine, where she resided for 27 years and was Director of the student owned travel agency until the school closed its student owned operations in 2004. After taking early retirement, Maureen explored a career in real estate, which she has successfully pursued for the past 11 years. Maureen has also worked with various neighborhood, civic and children’s aid organizations in the past, including Stop Gap, a program that utilized drama therapy for abused youth.

Pictures from the event are available upon request. Contact Brian McWilliams of Spelling Communications – bmcwilliams@spellcom.com / 310-838-4010

ABOUT CASA/LA

Founded in 1978, CASA of Los Angeles is a community-supported 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to mobilize community volunteers to advocate on behalf of abused and neglected children in the overburdened foster care system of Los Angeles County. CASA’s vision is of a Los Angeles where every foster child has an advocate and the opportunity to thrive. Through committed, highly trained everyday citizen volunteers, CASA brings the voice of a concerned community into the child welfare system. Studies have shown that children with CASAs receive more assistance and support than children without, and are more likely to be adopted or returned to their families and less likely to reenter the child welfare system. For more information, please visit the CASA of Los Angeles website: http://www.casala.org.