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CASA advocate manager leaving post

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By John Barnhart

After 11 years on the CASA staff in Bedford, Angela Mayfield is leaving.

    CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocate. These are trained volunteers who the Juvenile and Domestic Relations court can appoint, in cases that involve children, to investigate and advocate for the children’s interests. Mayfield served as the advocate manager for the Bedford area.
    Mayfield’s first experience with CASA was as a volunteer in 2001.
    “I always felt like I wanted to give back to the community,” she said, explaining why she volunteered. She learned of the program by seeing a brochure at the Bedford Central Library.
    She also served as a volunteer with Bedford Domestic Violence Service’s battered women’s shelter and eventually worked professionally as Domestic Violence Service’s court advocate, literally walking domestic violence victims through the court process of getting a protective order. During this time, she stopped doing CASA work due to a potential conflict of interest.
    She went to work for CASA in 2003 after her former advocate manager told her the job was open. The job covered Amherst and Nelson counties, in addition to Bedford, but the demand for CASAs in the Bedford area resulted in her job focusing on Bedford County alone.
    Mayfield said there are multiple factors at work making the Bedford Office so busy. One factor is that Bedford County has a good social services department. The other factor is the bad economy. Domestic problems sometimes spike when families struggle financially.
    Her reason for leaving is that her husband, Robert Mayfield, who is a mechanical engineer, is taking a job in Lexington, Kentucky. He’s working for a company called CMTAConsulting Engineers and his job will be designing systems to make buildings more energy efficient.
    “It’s very hard to leave,” she said.
    Although she’s originally from Bedford County, she grew up in Charleston, South Carolina. She considers Bedford County home.
    “Most of my family lives here,” she said.
    That includes her parents, who live in Thaxton. After her father retired, they came back home.
    Mayfield came home, too, back in the late ‘90s, after a one-year sojourn in New Hampshire. She had family here and this area seemed like a good place to raise children.
    “Working for the CASA organization has been the most rewarding and special experience of my life,” she commented.
    She’s proud of the organization.
    “It’s just spectacular work they [the volunteers] do,” Mayfield said. “We have a great group of volunteers. They are highly dedicated and passionate about helping kids.”
    Mayfield said CASA has developed a team effort in this area, working with the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court and social services.
    “We have a mutual respect for each other,” she said.
    Mayfield has spent her last weeks in the Bedford office ensuring a smooth hand-off of the advocate manager’s job to Susan Shutt, who is replacing her. She helped acclimate Shutt to the job and introduced her to the various people she will work with.
    During her work with CASA, Mayfield has made great efforts to publicize the program and her parting shot, during the interview for this story, was to call attention to an upcoming CASA volunteer class.
    “CASA of Central Virginia is currently recruiting for its upcoming class that begins in June,” she said.
    People who would like to enroll in this class should contact Bonnie Gentry at bonnie@cvcasa.org.  More information about CASA can be found at www.cvcasa.org.