CASA of Bradley County was one of many organizations that held events on USA Weekend’s Make A Difference Day Oct. 25.
CASA held its annual Melisha Gibson Light of Hope Moonlight Walk that evening.
The organization’s director was surprised by the news.
“I really couldn’t believe it, but I was really proud of the work we had done,” executive director Suzanne Wisdom said.
She said she knew the walk had meant a lot to the community and she “was glad to see that recognized.”
Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland will attend the official recognition ceremony in Washington, D.C., on behalf of the city on Thursday.
Originally, Rowland wanted to divide the award money among several organizations that participated.
When he was told only one could be chosen, “we just with eyes closed drew one” from those that had participated, Rowland said.
“I’m just sad that not everyone who participated could receive a grant,” Rowland said.
Rowland said he has been promoting Make A Difference Day for 20 years and was proud the city was finally chosen as a city winner. The mayor said there are always multiple projects going on around the chosen day of Oct. 25.
Wisdom said the funds will go toward recruiting and training new volunteers.
“Funding has been a challenge for us. The work we do — I think a lot of people don’t understand,” Wisdom said.
Prospective volunteers undergo an intensive background screening and 35 hours of training, including hands-on court training.
These volunteers represent the needs of the child in specific cases to advocate for what is best for the child.
Wisdom said judges will appoint a special advocate to the case if he or she think something could be wrong, whether child abuse, a dangerous situation or the needs of the child are not being met.
Court advocates typically work on one to two cases at a time. Wisdom said one advocate could handle up to 20 cases a year.
USA Weekend is a regular section provided to The Cleveland Daily Banner readers in the Sunday edition.
The Make A Difference Day award winners can be found in today’s issue.
Thousands of projects are nominated from across the nation each year. From these nominations, 10 national honorees, three city award winners and one All-Star Award are chosen to receive $10,000 for the charity of their choice. The awards are made possible through a partnership of USA Weekend magazine, Newman’s Own and the Gannett Foundation.