Around one hundred people were in attendance at the Complex in Bonham for a banquet honoring the volunteers and partners of the Fannin County Children’s Center. Attendees included CASA advocates, investigators, prosecutors, therapists, forensic interviewers, caseworkers, attorneys, district judge, board members and other volunteers and professionals involved in the child welfare and criminal justice systems in Fannin County.
Roxanne Wilson and Marta Schreiber received a standing ovation when it was announced that they are the CASA Advocates of the Year. Schreiber has been a CASA advocate for 22 years and Wilson for ten years. The first case they worked together lasted seven years. CASA Program Director Julie Luton described how the two have worked many cases together and experienced many joys, disappointments, successes and struggles along the way as they have advocated for many children in foster care.
Melanie Elliot with the Bonham Police Department was selected as the Multidisciplinary Team Member of the Year for the Children’s Advocacy Center. Members of the multidisciplinary team, which includes professionals from CPS, law enforcement, prosecution, medical and mental health, nominated and voted on the team member of the year. Assistant District Attorney Will Porter and CPS investigator Cody Trauer were recognized for being finalists for the team member of the year award too.
Colleen Ewing was named the Children’s Center Volunteer of the Year. Community Development Director Andrea Lappin described how Ewing volunteers with the annual School Supply and Christmas Drives and other ways around the office. Her cheerful smile and willingness to help get tasks completed in the Rainbow Rooms and around the center are greatly appreciated.
CAC Program Director Michelle Griffith was honored for 25 years of service to the Children’s Center. Griffith has filled many different roles at the center over the years, including being the first forensic interviewer, therapist, clinical director and program director. Executive Director Sandy Barber described Griffith as a leader with a big heart, playful spirit, and deep passion for serving victims of child abuse.
Stephanie Garcia was also recognized by Luton for her recent promotion to Program Director of CPS. Luton described how CASA has appreciated working with Garcia over the 14 years she has worked at the Department.
Numerous CASA Advocates were recognized and received pins for achieving three, five or ten years of service.
Timothy Rountree was the guest speaker for the evening. He is a senior child abuse detective, father, husband and survivor of child sexual abuse. He shared some of his personal story and thanked all who were in attendance for the role they play in helping victims of abuse. Rountree said the two best things to give survivors is courage and hope.
Children’s Center Board President Charlotte Garner welcomed everyone to the event. Children’s Center Board Member and Pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church Stuart Courtney gave the blessing for the meal. 336th District Judge Lauri Blake also spoke of her appreciation for all in attendance, especially the CASA advocates that she appoints to cases involving children in foster care.