ELIZABETH, NJ — Joe Nolan, veteran traffic and news reporter for radio and television stations in the New York City area, will emcee this year’s Foster the Dream Gala, the premier fundraiser for Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Union County, on Friday, Nov. 8.

Westfield’s Anne Bristow will receive the Dream-Keeper Award for Outstanding Volunteerism, singled out for her exemplary commitment to Union County’s most fragile youth: those removed from home because of abuse, neglect or abandonment and placed in foster care.

Now in its seventh year, the gala will move to the Embassy Suites by Hilton in Berkeley Heights, a larger venue to better accommodate the increasing guests each year. The locale’s elegant, avant-garde design and recently unveiled solarium known as The Glass House will enhance such festivities as cocktails, silent and live auctions, mystery bag prizes, raffles and the ever-popular wine pull. Dinner, dancing, and enthusiastic auctioneering all lead to the heart of the night: celebrating two volunteer champions.

Sign Up for Mountainside Newsletter
Our newsletter delivers the local news that you can trust.

Bristow, now working her second case with CASA of Union County, advocates for a 15-year-old transgender girl living in a system without resources to meet her needs. Anne has educated herself on LGBT rights and issues, participates in treatment and educational meetings, attends court hearings to report to the judge, and regularly visits her youth, having become an integral part of life for the teen, who initiates daily contact with Anne to check in. Anne’s unwavering presence — even when her youth was suddenly hospitalized — cultivates resiliency in a young person otherwise abandoned, facing the navigation of life with the safety net of family. As a seasoned advocate, Anne stepped up to train as a peer coordinator for the nonprofit and now oversees her own team of CASA volunteers.

This year’s Honorable Jo-Anne B. Spatola Dream-Maker Award recipient is Laura Stuss of Mountain Lakes, a former advocate and board member. As gala chair for several years — and originator of the gala, now the organization’s premier fundraiser — Laura has helped raise more than $750,000.

CASA of Union County recruits, trains, supervises and supports community volunteers to advocate for children removed from home and placed into foster care due to abuse, neglect or abandonment. The nonprofit serves two-thirds of the approximately 500 Union County youth in foster care; its goal is to provide an advocate for each.

Tickets are $150; log on to casaofunioncounty.org/gala to purchase tickets or tables of 10. For details, contact Alexis at aslade@casaofunioncounty.org or (908) 293-8141.