LEXINGTON — The Dawson/Gosper County Court Appointed Special Advocate, CASA, director has been named as one of the ten finalists for the “Star of the State” award.
Linda Shaw has been working in the CASA office since 2008, first as a volunteer supervisor and as director since 2012.
The Star of the State is an annual awards program developed to honor a Nebraska resident whose actions in the past year were a valuable contribution to society, according to the awards website. The award is sponsored by the Woodhouse Auto Family, based in Omaha.
Ten regional finalists will be honored and the statewide winner will win $2,020 to donate to the non-profit organization of their choice.
Shaw was nominated by one of her CASA volunteers, Tom Andrews.
Andrews wrote as part of his nomination, Shaw is, “constantly trying to add new volunteers to help keep every child with a CASA volunteer that is involved in the courts of Dawson and Gosper County.
While many other people may be deserving, I sit back and admire how she keeps a positive, helpful attitude while trying to help everyone around her do the best for these children, families, community, and everyone who visits at her doorway.”
Shaw said the fact she was not only nominated but named as one of the ten finalists was a surprise and thought it might be a joke, until more and more people reached out to congratulate her.
She said she normally avoids this sort of spotlight of attention, but came to think it was a good way to promote the CASA program and raise awareness for their activities.
Andrews wrote Shaw is continually helping families who are in need of assistance and often finds food assistance, housing assistance, helping to pay rent, getting Christmas presents and birthday gifts for the children in the CASA program.
He also wrote anyone who works with Shaw is a better person because of it due to her positive influence.
“Many children, families, volunteers, several communities in more than just Dawson and Gosper Counties, and the State of Nebraska have been blessed to have a person like Linda Shaw work in the Dawson/Gosper CASA office. She could be a role model for every person in the State of Nebraska,” Andrews wrote.
Shaw intends to use the nomination to promote the CASA program and recruit more volunteers. Last year Dawson/Gosper County CASA helped 108 children and have 26 active volunteers and are training several more.
She noted April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and the CASA program is hosting several events including speaking at local churches about the issue. They will present at the Calvary Assembly of God on April 11 and Grace Lutheran Church on April 18.
Shaw said her goal is for every child to be appointed their own CASA representative and at the moment there are too few CASA volunteers to do so. The CASA program is always looking for and to train new volunteers.
“Many people may be deserving of this award for many different reasons. I can only say Linda has made a difference in many, many lives and is the type of person that in my opinion this award is designed for. An average person whom has proven time and again they care about other people and communities,” Andrews wrote in his nomination conclusion.