Unsung Heroes: Lorraine Fleischman Makes a Difference in Children’s Lives

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 Lorraine Fleischman Photo: MHA Rockland
Lorraine Fleischman Photo: MHA Rockland

Lorraine Fleischman enjoys helping those in need by being a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) with Mental Health Association of Rockland County.

One of 7500 volunteers nationwide, she’s trained to work with children who are the subject of court cases related to abuse and neglect.

“I feel it’s a wonderful organization,” the Nanuet resident said. “The reason I do it is because it helps a child get out of a terrible situation and become a meaningful member of society.”

The court appoints a child advocate, a CASA, to see how the youngster, who may or may not be in foster care or living at home, is going. “CASAs report to a judge, and decisions about the child are made with the help of a CASA input,” Fleischman said.

“CASAs write reports to Family Court judges and also make recommendations to the court based on the child’s best interests,” MHA’s CASA Program Coordinator Stephanie Fox, J.D., said. Their input helps the court make decisions on the child’s behalf concerning school issues, home studies or whatever the judge feels is needed.

Many years ago Fleischman saw something about CASA on “Dr. Phil” that left an impression, and she completed the required 30 hours of training two years ago. “This was for me, and volunteering sounded positive,” she said. “I’m close to retirement and wanted to do meaningful work.”

A mother of two grown children, she works in the corporate world and for the past year accepted assignments for MHA Rockland. “My first case was simple, more time-oriented than involvement,” she said. No sooner was it completed than she was called to be a child advocate.”

Part of a nationwide organization of 955 programs and 75,000 volunteers, CASA of Rockland County — part of the nationwide CASA organization of 955 programs and 75,000 volunteers — began in 1987 and operated independently for 26 years until it became part of MHA Rockland in 2013.

“Lorraine is a compassionate, dedicated volunteer who has made a true difference in the lives of the children for whom she has advocated,” Fox said. “She has been a kind, consistent adult presence whose work is greatly valued by both MHA and the children and families she serves.”

Fleischman said there are no words for the thank-yous she receives from people she helps and for invitations to visit their homes after her CASA duties with them end.

“It’s gratifying to get thank-yous from people and to know I’m welcome in their homes any time,” she said. The only recognition she seeks is the satisfaction that she’s making a difference in someone’s life. “Maybe a child will get an opportunity to become a productive member of society, and it will give them the chance to succeed.”

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