Congratulations Jean Harris!

Atlantic City resident and CASA Volunteer Jean Harris was awarded CASA of New Jersey’s Volunteer of the Year Award last week at their Night For New Jersey’s Children event.

For the past 20 plus years, Jean Harris has advocated for over 50 children, whom she helped find safe, permanent homes. The impact this has had, not only on the children’s lives, but on the lives of their families and the community as a whole, cannot be measured in words.

In all of her years of service, Jean has advocated for three different New Jersey CASA programs. Currently, she advocates in Atlantic County, after having done so in both Morris and Ocean Counties. Jean not only serves as an advocate for children, but also as a Mentor Advocate and a member of the Program Impact Committee. Jean helps facilitate CASA 101 Training to teach potential volunteers abut writing a comprehensive, fact-based CASA court report. She also is a recipient of the Presidential Service Award for donating over 1,000 volunteer service hours.

Jean has been recognized many times by professional and social service organizations for her service on behalf of abused and neglected children. In honor of her outstanding service, Jean was presented with an Award of Distinction in Ocean County in 1999 and 2001. Community stakeholders routinely comment on Jean’s impact as a CASA Volunteer, commenting on her professionalism, fairness in judgment, honesty, compassion and unwavering advocacy for the children she serves. Several Judges have also remarked on the thoroughness of Jean’s reports and her thoughtful and relevant recommendations. She is universally respected by all the individuals with whom she comes in contact.

Jean remembers being told early on by her case supervisor that an advocate enters people lives to help resolve a problem and when it’s resolved, you move on. “You can’t keep intruding – you step in, do what you can and you step out.” Families often reach out to Jean to report successes and update her on the children’s progress. While she loves to hear from the families, Jean has never initiated contact with any of the children for whom she has advocated. Jean shared some time ago that she will eventually find out about all the children she served over the years by saying, “When I go to heaven, I’ll see all those kids again.”

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