Many Westport non-profits have big public profiles. We know about their great work, and we know which of our neighbors work so hard for them.
Plenty of other organizations are lower-key. We don’t hear about them, and we don’t know who’s involved.
Child Advocates of SW Connecticut is in that second category. Most of us have no clue about their work as volunteer advocates for vulnerable children in schools, communities and courtrooms.
Advocates get to know a child one-on-one. They speak with people who touch his or her life: families, foster families, teachers, doctors, social workers, therapists and attorneys.
Quietly ad effectively, they impact countless lives.
CAC operates throughout the area — with a heavy Westport presence. Recently, they honored 20 local residents for outstanding advocacy:
- Nancy Anderson
- April Book
- Tanya Clemmons
- Catherine Davis
- Lindsay DelCampo
- Amanda Doyle
- Allison Feuer
- Lisa Friedland
- Laura Hallet
- Heidi Hammer
- Elliott Landon
- Amy Levantin
- Lauri Levitt
- Wendy Melnick
- Suzan Murphy
- Donna Steinberg
- Ricki Stern
- Michelle Titlebaum
- Sheri Warshaw
- Cindy Zuckerbrod
What the volunteers do is astonishing. The video below — featuring Allison Feuer and Garth, who she has advocated for over the past 6 years — provides a look at their deep relationship. If you watch nothing else this week, click below!
The 20 honorees are grateful. But they say they get as much as they give.
April Book became a volunteer because she wanted to make a difference in the life of a child. She worked with a teenage girl for the past 3 years, during the youngster’s many ups and downs.
“She came from a turbulent home, and experienced trauma and neglect,” Book says.
“She has been in several foster and group homes during the time I have worked with her. She reaches out to me for support, assistance or advice, and we enjoy spending time together. I have been a consistent presence, and she knows I will always be there for her.”
Amanda Doyle advocates for a teen, “to ensure her educational needs are being met, and help her navigate some of the social challenges that have been difficult for all children during the pandemic. We are working on developing a trusting relationship, which has been challenging given all the trauma she has been through. My goal is to provide a stable, positive influence on her life.”
Lisa Friedland’s cases involve families needing legal help to address family issues. “I try to be a resource for the court,” she says. “I gather information and insights that will help a judge make a fair and fully informed decision in the best interest of the child.”
Sheri Warshaw notes, “My role as a CAC volunteer afforded me the most meaningful way to make a difference in a child’s life. I’m so proud to be a part of this phenomenal organization.”
Cindy Zuckerbrod has spent nearly 2 years with a 17-year-old, who is still just a freshman in high school. She says, “through my advocacy, her hard work and her trust in me, she will be promoted to the next grade.
“She recently got an 87 on a test, something she thought would never happen. She was reunified with her biological parents 3 months ago.” The girl and her parents asked Zuckerbrod to continue working with her even after the case is closed by the court.
Executive director Stacey Sobel — another Westporter — says, “CAC is thrilled to honor our incredible volunteers. Vulnerable children have suffered disproportionately during the COVID pandemic. Our volunteers have done a tremendous job ensuring needs are being met.”
(Child Advocates’ annual fundraising luncheon was canceled, due to COVID. Click here to contribute to their “The Gift That Gives” online campaign, and to learn how to volunteer.)