Special advocates hope to make positive change

NORWICH – Even if they only help one child, five special volunteers will have made a world of difference, judicial and social services officials said Tuesday.

Marian Banner, Elaine DeVoust, Patricia Smith and Lauri Arnold of Sidney, and Patricia Hanson of Bainbridge, are now part of the Court Appointed Special Advocate program. The program started last June through Catholic Charities and the Dispute Resolution Centers of Chenango and Otsego counties. Working with families, attorneys, judges, counselors and community members, the advocates’ ultimate goal is to ensure that children from broken homes have every opportunity to live in a positive and permanent setting, hopefully with, but possibly without, their families.

“I have seen children in situations like this,” said Pat Hanson of Bainbridge, a school teacher in Sidney for 37 years who, along with the four others from the Tri-Town area, was sworn in Tuesday as a new CASA for Chenango County. “As a teacher, you can do a lot to change a child’s life. After I retired, I decided it was time to give something more.”

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