If you're familiar with CASA of Luzerne County, odds are you're familiar with Annie Ellis.
Annie became a court appointed special advocate in May of 2016 and has charged full steam ahead since then. Her first case ended in a very happy adoption and now Annie is working on her second, devoting her time and energy to a young girl who is benefiting greatly from her dedication.
Annie speaks proudly about her CASA experience whenever she can. Perhaps her words are what helped draw some of you to the program, too.
An important thing for Annie is to make sure that people know that CASA exists and the need for these children to have a voice.
"I'm afraid that most people are just as unaware as I was two-and-a-half years ago that right here in Luzerne County over 400 children are subjected to neglect and abuse and are literally physically removed from their homes," Annie said.
The most important thing, though, is the children we serve.
"The importance of understanding just how fragile the children we encounter are cannot be overstated," Annie said. "Their experience is so different from our own. For us, home is our safe place. For these kids, it is most often the very place where they feel the most scared. Beyond scared -- unsafe. And the years of living with neglect and abuse, feeling unsafe, causes a child to live in that constant, traumatized, fight-or-flight mode. It takes such a toll on them. To have just one adult they can trust and rely on, one adult who won't hurt them or leave them is just huge."
Annie's dedication to CASA's mission is so strong that she left her career as a litigation paralegal to officially join our staff in June.
"I am so grateful to have the opportunity to enlarge my advocacy by joining CASA as an Advocate Coordinator," she said. "I am grateful for the confidence being placed in me. I am so grateful to the CASA staff and the advocates for their welcoming support. I believe in this mission. I see the need, which is only growing, and I am committed to making a difference."
Annie lives in Waverly Township. She is one of seven children and has four children of her own - who will soon have 10 of their own children.
If, like Annie, you're ready to give back to a child who so desperately needs your voice and your dedication, please reach out to us.