CASA of Kent County has welcomed some new faces to the Board of Directors this year, and we’d like to introduce them!
Ron and Jeannine Lemmon have always been active members of the Grand Rapids community. Throughout their adult lives, both Ron and Jeannine have actively volunteered and served on several boards and committees. Over time, they found themselves being drawn toward direct, hands-on service roles where they could work with clients in the community.
Journey to advocacy
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, Ron and Jeannine were no longer permitted to volunteer in the emergency department of a local hospital. They began looking for new ways to get involved and described their journey to CASA as “serendipitous.” The Lemmons knew of CASA of Kent County and its mission from public service announcements on WYCE local public radio (another nonprofit where they volunteer). During their hospital volunteer hiatus, they each separately began considering the idea of becoming a court appointed special advocate. One day, Jeannine saw a Facebook post and mentioned the idea to Ron, when he’d been thinking about the same thing.
The Lemmons completed their CASA training in winter of 2021. They learned about child welfare in Kent County and had an idea of what to expect, but during our conversations with them, Ron and Jeannine both emphasized the impact of their first advocate supervisor, Deb, in helping them learn the ropes. As their supervisor, Deb taught the Lemmons how to handle new and unpredictable situations as they arose and helped them hone their advocacy skills.
Two is better than one
As a husband-and-wife duo, Ron and Jeannine have the unique ability to split their time between their CASA children and have a higher capacity to visit them in different placements. Together and individually, they visit the four children involved in their case who live in separate foster homes in different towns. When asked about the role, Jeannine said, “I don’t know how I would do this without him as a partner.” Together, Ron and Jeannine are helping to ensure their CASA children’s needs are met and that they are meeting developmental milestones. The best part about being CASA volunteers according to the Lemmons? Hugs from their sweet kiddos.
In addition to their roles as advocates, the Lemmons support CASA of Kent County as both ambassadors and donors. Ron and Jeannine shared that, like volunteer work, philanthropy has been a priority for them, and that they’re drawn to small organizations like CASA that make a “lean and mean direct impact.” The Lemmons support CASA with their own donations and by promoting CASA’s mission in their personal networks, inviting friends to CASA events, and sharing about their work as volunteers.
When asked what they would say to folks interested in learning more about CASA, Ron reflected, “It has been extremely rewarding. As difficult as it is to see what these kids go through, the prospect of making a difference in their lives makes it worth it.”
This story was featured in the Winter 2023 edition of CASA Connect, CASA of Kent County’s quarterly newsletter. Click here to view a pdf version of this newsletter.
Several years ago, Kym Matthews met former CASA volunteer and current Michigan CASA employee, Janice Fonger at a networking “power lunch” hosted by WGVU radio host Shelley Irwin. For Kym, this was the introduction into a community she is now passionate about.
Meet Tish! She completed CASA training in January 2022 and has already worked on three cases.
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