CASA award

CASA employee Anna Marie Nordgren gives Chris Cameron the Advocate of the Year award at their annual dinner. Cameron has volunteered with CASA the past six years and has been an advocate for 12 children caught up in the court system.

He has 40 years of experience as an educator. Whether it be as a teacher or principal or administrator, Chris Cameron knows children.

The Mt. Juliet, Del Webb resident retired in 2012 and immediately brought his patience, empathy and skills to a Wilson County non-profit that recently recognized him for his six years of volunteering for the organization.

Wilson County CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) recently held its annual Volunteer Appreciation Dinner and named Cameron Advocate of the Year.

“Chris was the perfect choice for this year’s award,” CASA Executive Director Cathey Sweeney said. “He is the lifeline to one special child in state’s custody. (The child) has been in custody for five years. (The child) has lived in multiple foster homes and facilities in Tennessee. No matter where (the child) is residing, Chris is faithful about visiting him.  Without a doubt, Chris is (the child’s) BFF.”

Cameron does speak eloquently about the child, whom he started advocating years ago. The child is now 13 and lives in a state-sponsored residential facility in Memphis. Cameron travels there about once a month to see the him.

Cameron, who has two grown children and many grandchildren, said though he officially retired from the school system, his continued work with children and CASA was the perfect match.

“After I retired from education after 40 years of working with kids, I could not turn it off like a spigot,” he said. “I decided I would do something with kids on a different level, without a lot of the bureaucracy.”

Cameron joins 89 other CASA advocates in Wilson County. They serve 238 children. Cameron advocated 12 children and has donated many hours of his time and countless miles to the organization.

“Wilson County CASA depends on volunteers, like Chris, to fulfill the role of a court advocate for children who are navigating the court system as a result of being abused or neglected,” Sweeney said.

Cameron said the child was one of three siblings and a family adopted his brother and sister.

“They already had two children,” Cameron said. “They could not adopt all three.”

The child went to another foster family, but that couple divorced. Cameron said he is desperately looking for a Wilson County family to foster the child.

“So, he can at least be near his brother and sister here in Wilson County, instead of in Memphis,” he said.

Cameron wasn’t the only volunteer who received an appreciation award for volunteering.

The Community Champion Award was given to Public Defender Shelley Thompson Gardner. The Spirit Award was given to Lee Roy Campbell. The Heart of CASA Award was given to David Chamberlain. The Extraordinary Service Award was presented to Jenni Bond. Lee Campbell received the Pinnacle Award.  Brittany Ash was awarded Rookie of the Year. Staff Program Director Diana Haines was presented with a 10-year service award.

The next CASA volunteer training session is scheduled to begin in June. Contact the CASA office at (615) 443-2002 or visit www.wilsoncountycasa.org for information.

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