Casa Volunteers Honored For Contributions

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At an April 12 awards program, Chief Probation Officer Kendall Rhyne (left), Gila County CASA Program Director Katrisha Stuler (second from left) and Judge Peter Cahill (right) honored Dixie and Cecil Sims (middle) as CASAs of the Year for Gila County.

The volunteers involved in the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program of Gila County — Payson were recognized for their efforts and contributions at a special event April 12.

There are 25 CASA volunteers in northern Gila County. In 2010, they served 46 children on a total of 31 cases.

They wrote 50 court reports, which provided critical information to the court regarding what was in the best interest of the children they served. And together these CASAs logged a grand total of 2,499 hours and drove 11,018 miles working on their cases.

Currently 94 percent of dependent children within the court system in northern Gila County have a CASA volunteer.

Special honors at the program went to Cecil and Dixie Sims, CASA of the Year for Gila County — Award of Excellence; Bob Hibbert, the CASA who has had the most number of cases; Julie Williams, who has been a CASA for 17 years; and the businesses of Scoops and the Payson Roundup, for support given the program.

The Simses have been with CASA of Gila County since March of 2008. During this time, they have had four cases and a total of five children. None of these cases have been easy ones.

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Bob Hibbert

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Julie Williams

Their first case was a teenager who had a baby while in care. She was placed in Mesa shortly after the Simses took the case, so they traveled to Mesa. Their second case was with a teenage boy who was placed in the Valley as well, so they traveled to the Valley. Their third case was with a developmentally disabled teenage girl. The Simses went above and beyond in advocating for this young lady. While they were her CASAs, they nominated her for a Jane Lindsey “I Can Do it Award,” which she won. On the day of the luncheon when she received her award, it was difficult to tell who was prouder, the CASA child or the Simses.

Their present case is their toughest yet. They have two boys on this case and they are traveling once again as one child is placed in Queen Creek and the other in Glendale, while the court hearings are in Globe.

Cecil and Dixie Sims have logged just over 5,000 miles to date and 1,160 hours working on their CASA cases.

Hibbert has had 10 cases with a total of 15 children. He has been a CASA for 9 years.

Scoops has provided all the coffee for the Coffee with CASA recruiting events for the past two years.

To learn more about CASA of Gila County, visit www.azcasa.org or call (928) 474-7145.

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