CASA Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient, Jan Brice, has just completed her 28th year as a CASA Volunteer. Her friend and then Dependency Court Commissioner, Gary Polinsky, introduced Jan to CASA, which at that time was an innovative pilot program initiated by the Los Angeles Superior Court. With Jan’s affinity and compassion for children, she immediately realized she wanted to become a CASA volunteer.
From the beginning of her service with CASA, Jan was passionate about the Children’s Court Assistant (CCA) component. CCA volunteers serve children who await their Dependency Court hearings in the Shelter Care area of the Children’s Court. The role of CCAs is to help alleviate children’s anxieties about the court process, accompany children to and from their hearings, provide emotional support when needed, and serve as a resource for the children.
In her role as a CCA volunteer, Jan wrote the CCA Guidelines Handbook, scheduled the CCA volunteers and trained new CCA volunteers. In addition to her work as a CCA, Jan has also contributed to the CASA program by serving as: a CASA for specific children, the Assistant Editor of the CASA Newsletter, a member of the very first Volunteer Planning Committee for the Annual CASA Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon, and since its inception, as a volunteer for the Annual CASA Glamour Gowns Event for teens in foster care.
Jan’s philosophy is that life should be chiefly service to others and after leaving a career in accounting and finance at Great Western Bank, she has considered herself to be a “professional volunteer”. Since that time Jan has focused on making a contribution, especially in the lives of children of all ages with whom she has an exceptional ability to relate and communicate.
Jan says she first realized the difference one person can make in the life of another years ago when she was frightened and confused as her husband, Tom, was being admitted to the hospital from the emergency room. During that experience, a kind woman on the elevator took the time to comfort and explain to her what was happening. Tom subsequently became one of the early heart transplant recipients and until his passing in 2008, was one of the longest-surviving heart transplant recipients.
Her spirit of volunteerism also encompasses Jan’s activities as a member of the Self-Realization Fellowship Church Lake Shrine, where for many years, she served as Co-leader for the Holiday Gifts for Foster Children, which annually fulfilled specific gift requests for 300 – 400 children/teens in foster care. Jan also volunteers in the Sunday School there, as well as, writing the Sunday service announcements and volunteering in various other capacities as opportunities arise.
The CASA Lifetime Achievement Award is a fitting tribute to Jan Brice, a volunteer for all seasons and all reasons.