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Bartholomew County Juvenile Magistrate Heather Mollo, left, stands with newly appointed Court Appointed Special Advocates, from left, Bethany Everroad, Sonia Straub, Jennifer Lobdell, Krystalia Herrera, Ellen Woodcock, Sabrina Johnson and Katherine Wallace. Submitted

Seven volunteers have been sworn in as new advocates for local victims of child abuse and neglect.

At the Bartholomew County Courthouse on March 6, Juvenile Magistrate Heather Mollo administered the oath that officially made Bethany Everroad, Sonia Straub, Jennifer Lobdell, Krystalia Herrera, Ellen Woodcock, Sabrina Johnson and Katherine Wallace all Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs).

“Thank you for your willingness to take on the difficult task of being involved in the lives of people who may not, at first, understand why your presence is needed,” Mollo said to the volunteers, before swearing them in as officers of the court. “Your dedication, passion and commitment are a great benefit to our community.”

As CASA volunteers, they will promote the best interests of children who have been removed from unsafe homes during those children’s time in the child protection system.

Nearly 77,000 CASA volunteers nationwide served more than 250,000 children.

Locally, Advocates for Children, the agency coordinating CASA volunteers in Bartholomew, Decatur and Jennings counties, served an agency-record 841 abused and neglected children. However, 305 children remain on a waiting list because of the need for more CASA volunteers.

Advocates for Children is taking applications for a new training class to be held in April. The upcoming class will be held during daytime hours, three days a week, to provide an opportunity for those who are interested but may have conflicts with an evening class.

Individuals interested in learning more about the the upcoming training session, or Advocates for Children in general, are encouraged to visit the agency’s website, apowerfulvoice.org, or call the office at 877-604-9402.