Advocates for Children’s Best Interest

Abigail Sweeney and Victoria Gonzalez are volunteers for CHD’s Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) Program of Hampden County, which works with Springfield and Holyoke Juvenile Courts to improve stability, opportunities, and permanency outcomes for children with active Care & Protection cases through one-on-one advocacy. Sweeney and Gonzalez were sworn in last November.

Sweeney (left), from Ludlow, is in the Justice and Forensic Studies program at Bay Path University. She has a history of volunteerism, raising money for the Relay for Life cancer charity walk, reading to children at the Hubbard Memorial Library in Ludlow, and working with children in the Ludlow Lions youth soccer clinic.

She said that CASA “allows me to apply some of my class knowledge to real cases. In my daily life, I am an advocate for justice in many areas, but especially social justice. I think the passion I have for the topic is useful in advocating for children and making a difference.”

Gonzalez is director of the ZEAL Youth Empowerment Center in Springfield, and is currently earning a bachelor’s degree in Social Work at Elms College after studying at STCC. She has worked at the Baystate Medical Campus Child and Adolescent Psychology Treatment Unit, and has volunteered at Restoration City Church, as well as at and Girls Inc. of the Valley. Of joining CASA, Gonzalez said, “I’ve always wanted to help people, especially children and youth, turn their life into what it could be, and make a difference in their life for the better.”

CASA is seeking new volunteers to serve as advocates for children in need in the community. There will be virtual information session on the following Wednesdays, 7:00-8:00 p.m. (via Zoom): January 24, February 28, March 6, and March 20. Register for an information session.