Advocate Spotlight: Sandy Serafin and Donna Vrhel

  (Left-Right) Sandy Serafin and Donna Vrhel

(Left-Right) Sandy Serafin and Donna Vrhel

Within minutes of talking to both Sandy and Donna, it was clear that helping kids is not something they do in their spare time, but something they do every single day. Both women were part of the first group of advocates that CASA of Luzerne County recruited, trained, and Appointed by the court back in 2013. It is fitting that they were part of that first founding class, as they exemplify what it means to be a CASA (court appointed special advocate).

The military took Serafin out of the area for 30 years. While serving the country overseas, she was regularly introduced to communities in need. Her passion for changing futures came naturally and she enjoyed helping children the most. It was fitting that upon her return, she quickly became a CASA. Sandy has been appointed to her fifth case.

Like Serafin, Donna also has a long history serving the needs of neglected or impoverished children. Vrhel spent 10 years in NY state CYS (Children and Youth Services) and then moved to Pennsylvania, serving another 27 years in the Luzerne County CYS office. Vrhel has remained working with the children from her first case: two sisters, split by their childhood traumas of both abuse and neglect. Four years after becoming their advocate, Donna displays the consistency and stability that a CASA provides for children who need it most.

Both women agree that being a CASA provides consistency for a child amongst so much instability. They have learned to ‘listen with their eyes as well as their ears,’ as body language can reveal so many things about a child’s situation. When asked if she had any advice for future and pending Advocates, Donna summarized in an impactful statement, “CASA is a great launching pad for people looking to serve children. The initial training takes some time but just a little time dedicated to the child can change their future forever.”