LINDEN, NJ - A Linden woman received recognition by the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Union County for her volunteerism efforts as a child advocate.

Mureen Allen started her journey as a CASA volunteer after discovering a flyer while attending jury duty.  After letting the flyer sit for a few weeks, Allen decided to follow her impulse to help others and hasn't looked back since.

As a CASA volunteer, Allen is a trained citizen who is appointed by a judge to represent the best interests of a child in court. Children helped by CASA volunteers include those for whom home placement is being determined in family court. 

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Reflecting on her life, Allen knows she was lucky to have a loving family and realizes how different it could have been for her.

“Every time I see or think of a child who isn’t in a loving home, it moves me,” Allen said. “Any one of us could be in that position, but we had parents, family and friends who loved, nurtured and cared for us.”

Allen enjoys her role as an advocate and loves seeing those she's helped connect with their foster parents.

“As an advocate, I have had two little ones in my care. They each entered the foster system as babies. Fortunately, they are siblings and went to the same resource family,” Allen said. “Seeing them thrive with their foster parents is heartwarming, and seeing the foster parents interact with them shows true bonds of a family. They know no other parents and call their foster parents ‘mommy’ and ‘daddy’.”

Allen's work and care for her community doesn’t end as a child advocate. She recently volunteered to conduct COVID-19 testing at Kean University and finds ways to provide help where she can.

CASA of Union County was established in 2005, and has since been recruiting, training, supervising and supporting community volunteers to advocate for abused, neglected and abandoned children placed in foster homes or residential facilities. Since its inception, CASA of Union County has trained more than 450 volunteers and advocated for more than 700 children placed in foster care through no fault of their own. There are currently approximately 500 Union County youth in foster care and CASA of Union County serves about half of those children, from birth to age 21.

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