Dawn Sutherland: Connecting people with resources

Dawn Sutherland is a master when it comes to connecting people with resources. It’s a skill that can be attributed to her 25+ year career in healthcare.

Dawn was introduced to CASA by a friend. She had always wanted to volunteer but found herself too busy with full-time work and being mom to three kids. With her own children grown and her healthcare career in the rearview mirror, April of 2015 proved to be the right time for Dawn to be was sworn in as a Court Appointed Special Advocate.

As the eyes and ears for the court, Dawn advocates for children who have been removed from their home due to abuse, neglect, or domestic violence. In her role, she’s been able to continue her lifelong work of connecting people with resources.

She’s currently working her second case as a CASA and is advocating for a 3-year-old girl whose young parents fell into the cycle of substance abuse, domestic violence, and homelessness.

“Somebody has to speak for this child,” she says. “We’re getting her speech therapy because she quit talking due to the violence.”

“Every kiddo,” she continued “wants to be with their family no matter how horrible the conditions are.”

It’s for that reason that even though her job is to help the child, Dawn strives to help the parents as well. She knows it’s not easy making court appointments, taking care of a child, struggling to make ends meet, and working two jobs all with only one car.

Dawn not only pushes the parents to complete their court-ordered counseling, substance abuse classes, and domestic violence classes, but she also worked tirelessly to find the homeless family a place to stay. And once housing was acquired, she went to work furnishing their home with items like a mattress, refrigerator, pots and pans, couch, and more.

A lot of what she’s helped the family acquire, has come through a site called Care Portal. It’s a site that gives churches an opportunity to reach out to the Department of Human Services and identify legitimate needs in the community.

Dawn gets a serious sense of accomplishment from her work.

“You’re not finished with a case until it’s better,” she said. “So you really get to see a bad situation get better and it’s an accomplishment of sort just to watch people learn and come together.”

In addition to being a CASA, Dawn is a wife and mother to three grown children who live in Nashville, Boulder, and Colorado Springs. She is currently training a therapy dog which she intends to use in the future should she be assigned to a case with a traumatized child. She also volunteers through her church, Academy Christian, giving blankets to the homeless. “Don’t just go to church… Be the church,” she said.

CASA is having a volunteer informational session from 5:30-6:30 on May 7 at the CASA office. If you think you might be a good fit to join Dawn in advocating for kids, drop by on that day to learn more. Or fill out a volunteer application here.

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