Tallmadge resident Kim Ray was in court under false pretenses.
She was called to the Summit County Juvenile Court May 28 because she was given some erroneous information. She was told that someone who works in the court-based Court Appointed Special Advocate/Guardian ad Litem (CASA/GAL) Program was receiving an award at the Court's Employee & Volunteer Recognition Reception.
Armed with a bouquet of flowers, Ray gathered with some fellow program volunteers to await the big moment.
What she didn't know was that the big moment was reserved for her.
Ray was named the court's Volunteer of the Year for her work with not one but two organizations that serve the Court: CASA/GAL and the Women's Board.
Not only does Ray involve herself as the current secretary of the Summit County CASA Board and maintains an active role in the many Women's Board activities, she has been a Tallmadge City Council At-Large representative for four years and is a past president and current member of the Tallmadge Rotary Club. She serves as treasurer of the Tallmadge Community Foundation and chair of the Tallmadge League of Women Voters. She also has volunteered for the Tallmadge Good Neighbors' annual food drive and Faithful Servants Care Center and is a member of the Parent-Teacher Student Association of Tallmadge City Schools. She's the secretary and a board member of Mature Services.
With all that on her plate, she was still able to spearhead fund-raising for the CASA/GAL Program. The funding is used primarily to recruit, train and retain CASA volunteers. Her efforts have paid off -- the Summit County CASA/GAL Program is the largest in Ohio and fourth-largest in the nation.
During Judge Linda Tucci Teodosio's introduction of the court's Volunteer of the Year, it became apparent to Ms. Ray that the Judge was describing her. She became almost overwhelmed. Tears flowed and she hugged a fellow CASA volunteer sitting next to her. Needless to say, she was the most surprised person in the room.
During her introduction, Judge Teodosio said of Ray, "Her heart and soul is devoted to ensuring that the children CASA serves have the best possible advocate. Through her devotion and commitment, the CASA Program has achieved many of its goals, and the children it serves have benefitted greatly from her volunteerism."
When Teodosio called Ray forward to receive her award, there was one more surprise. Family members were ushered into the room during her introduction and as she was handed her plaque, she saw them gathered in the back of the room.
As she took the podium, Ray said, "These organizations have been a blessing in my life. It's a privilege to represent them. It has been an honor to work on behalf of the Court. This is a special place."