Rewarded for wanting to do more

MARSHALL COUNTY — The Indiana Retired Teachers Association (IRTA) held their Annual Representatives Assembly June 19, awarding Melody Kruger as 2013 Outstanding CASA Volunteer.

To receive the award, the volunteer must be an exceptional Court Appointed Special Advocate volunteer and be a member of the Indiana Retired Teachers Association. Every year, IRTA and CASA present the award to those who demonstrate excellence in their volunteering time and a member of the IRTA.

“I’m humbled an honored to receive quite an award from this group of peers and I’m pleased that IRTA has selected this as their volunteer program,” said Kruger.

Kruger became a CASA volunteer in 2002 and was CASA Director from 2006-2013. She has advocated for more than 25 children during her time as a volunteer. Although retired from her director’s position, Kruger remains an active advocate taking multiple cases at a time. Kruger was formerly a teacher in Eastern Pulaski Schools from 1971-1990 and elementary principal for Plymouth Schools from August 1990 until becoming CASA Director.

“In my 33 and a half years as an educator, I saw kids come to school with bumps and bruises with sometimes stories of physical abuse children that were hungry wearing clothes that hadn’t been laundered, those types of things,” commented Kruger. “I always thought we had to do more.”

Kruger said she always handled her student’s situations appropriately by reporting to child protective services and working with parents but it was upon her discovery of CASA in 2002 that led her to her many years of service.

“I knew this is it; this is how we can do more,” said Kruger discovering CASA.

“She deserves this award and has been a mentor to so many children and volunteers in the community,” said Haley Kittrell, Executive Director for CASA of Marshall County.

A Court Appointed Special Advocate is a trained volunteer appointed by a judge to represent the best interests of a child who is a victim of abuse and/or neglect in court.

With a need to increase public awareness about CASA, the Indiana State CASA office partnered with the Indiana Retired Teachers Association in 2007 to increase public awareness for both organizations. Leslie Dunn, State CASA Director, attended various IRTA functions to promote volunteerism and provide information to retired teachers about becoming a CASA volunteer.

There is a need for more volunteers. The only qualification is to pass a criminal and CPS background check, complete 33hours of training and be at least 21 years old. The next training begins at the end of September.

For more information on becoming a volunteer, contact Kittrell at 574-935-8723 or

(This story was published in the June 29 edition of The Pilot News.)