A Liberty Township woman has won a state award for her work in helping children.
Carol Swisshelm received the Pro Star Volunteer of the Year award for her work through the Ohio CASA –Court Appointed Special Advocates/GAL – Guardian Ad Litem at the organization’s 2013 Celebrate Kids conference.
For the past six years Swisshelm has been a volunteer through PARACHUTE: Butler County CASA. During that time she provided advocacy for 15 abused or neglected children from seven families.
As a volunteer, Swisshelm’s role is to be a voice for the children by looking out for their best interests as they progress through the juvenile court and children’s services systems.
It is a CASA volunteer who brings together all of the parties responsible for providing services to a child. They work to make sure services ordered by the court are provided and the court is updated.
Over the past 12 months, Swisshelm has spent more than 226 hours on a case involving two preschoolers. She talked with 13 professionals monthly on behalf of them, supporting the foster family, and encouraging the children’s biological mother.
“I learn much more from the children than they (learn) from me,’’ Swisshelm said. “They keep me grounded. They keep me humble.”
This week she received a proclamation honoring her for her work and award from the Liberty Township Board of Trustees.
Liberty Township Trustee Christine Matacic said she’s been friends with Swisshelm for many years. She said she does other work in the community as well.
“She’s done a lot of work in the community no one even knows about,” Matacic said. “A lot of time it’s (done) quietly, behind the scenes.”
During her time as a volunteer Swisshelm completed 162 hours of related education and training – double the amount required. She helps train new volunteers and makes public presentations about CASA.
“She always comes across as professional and passionate about her work,” the state organization said on its website. “Her dedication is truly contagious.”