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CASA Light of Hope approaching
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Forsyth County News

At a glance

The Light of Hope Celebration will be held 7 p.m. April 19 at the Lanier Technical College Forsyth Conference Center, 7745 Majors Road. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, visit



Several people who have made a difference in children’s lives will be recognized by Court Appointed Special Advocates of Forsyth County.

The organization, which provides volunteer advocates for children in abuse and neglect cases, will hold its annual Light of Hope Celebration April 19 at the Lanier Technical College Forsyth Conference Center.

Janet Walden, executive director of Forsyth CASA, said the event, which is free and open to the public, is held each April as part of National Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness Month.

“We know that when children are connected to an important adult, they are much less likely to be abused, so every year we recognize our Light of Hope winners,” she said.

Nominations for the award are taken from the community each year, she said. A selection committee then chooses 11 people to receive the recognition at the event.

Light of Hope recipients are not CASA volunteers, but an outstanding advocate also is recognized each year with the Volunteer of the Year Award.

This year, Walden said, a new award will be introduced to recognize CASA’s former board chairman, Everett Bennett, who passed away March 2.

“We created a community partner award in his memory,” Walden said. “We wanted to celebrate what Mr. Bennett stood for, which was doing all he could for his community.”

Aside from awards, the event will also provide information about preventing child abuse and neglect.

Walden said 191 children where served in court cases by 85 of CASA’s 95 volunteers in 2011.

She said the volunteers typically spend 16 to 18 months on each case.

“And it’s not just a few hours here and there,” she said. “It’s usually at least 15 to 20 hours each month per case.”

Walden said raising awareness about the organization and the problem of child abuse is the main focus of the event.

“A big part of [Light of Hope] is talking about the issue and putting a face to it,” she said. “We also want to help people learn what they can do to help.”

She said CASA is always looking for new volunteers.

“We’ll begin our next training in August and we’ll swear in our new class in the fall,” she said. “We serve 100 percent of the cases we’re asked to serve, so we can always use new [advocates].”

Walden also hopes for a good turnout at the Light of Hope Celebration.

“We would love to have as many people there as possible,” she said.