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Longtime CASA retires, recognized for 10 years of service

Posted: Wednesday, March 20, 2019 | Views: 1541

Longtime CASA retires, recognized for 10 years of service
By: Kathryn J. Martin
Special to

Recently Ponchatoula's Jim Sutterfield was surprised with special honors as he celebrated 10 years as a CASA volunteer.

In 2009, Sutterfield retired as Regional Client Services Manager with Unisys Corporation (formerly Burroughs), but even after forty years on the job, he was not content to watch the world go by and found an organization where he could continue to make a difference, especially in the lives of children.

Knowing CASA volunteers are everyday citizens trained to advocate for abused and neglected children in the court system, Sutterfield lost no time in being trained by Child Advocacy Services CASA Program and was sworn in as a Court Appointed Special Advocate in June of the same year.

Each advocate is appointed by the presiding judge to represent children’s best interests, helping each reach a safe permanent home as quickly as possible.

Child Advocacy Services’ home office is located in Hammond and serves ten parishes with the mission of giving voice, security and healing to children. With his passion for such a mission, Jim Sutterfield has been an outstanding advocate for more than 23 children since being sworn in, often serving on more than one case at a time. He has faithfully visited all the children he’s been assigned to, with distance never a barrier to making sure “his kids” are okay. He’s even traveled to Mississippi to check on a young man who’d been placed out of state.
He’s gone above and beyond monthly visits and attending court as he’s also spent many hours volunteering for agency outreach events.

Seeing a need for more volunteers, particularly males, he’s worked with the CASA Recruiter to get more volunteers in training. “Mr. Jim” has been the first in line to speak to new advocates during training sessions.

He quickly earned the respect of judges, attorneys and Department of Children and Family Services staff. Personnel in the 21st Judicial District Court often have requested he be assigned to cases based on his always knowing every detail about “his” children and his recommendations always representing what’s best for them.

Mr. Jim’s last court appearance at the end of February was with mixed emotions:
*Joyful, because the children in foster care he’d been assigned to in 2012, finally had permanency. He’d never missed a month of advocating for them in all that time.
*Happy, because of the unexpected standing ovation, much applause and many kind comments of appreciation for his work.
*Sad, because after a decade of service, beloved Mr. Jim is retiring due to medical reasons this month, March 2019.

Jerri Pevey, Lead Advocate Supervisor of Child Advocacy Services, says, “Mr. Jim is such a special person to us. His work has impacted us all.”

Ponchatoula Mayor Robert Zabbia adds, “Mr. Sutterfield touches so many lives with his caring, faithfulness and hard work - the qualities that keep our city known for its volunteerism.”

On a personal note, Jim Sutterfield and wife, Marilyn, have two daughters and their families, Lauren in Mississippi and Leigh Ann in Florida.

His retiring as a CASA leaves a big vacancy so if you want to help fill it, call 800-798-1575 or visit to learn about volunteering.
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