Bradford named Oklahoma CASA Association Advocate of the Year
Staff Reports Claremore Progress
Ben Bradford, Tri-County CASA volunteer, has been named Advocate of the Year for 2013 by the Oklahoma CASA Association.
Bradford has served as a CASA volunteer with Tri-County CASA for 13 years and is the program’s longest-serving volunteer. He has advocated for 28 children on 12 different cases during his tenure with the organization. Angela Henderson, Program Director of Tri-County CASA, nominated Bradford for the award.
“Ben’s professionalism, concern for children, and dedication are without parallel,” Henderson said. “He is greatly respected by the child welfare team and quite deserving of this honor.”
In her nomination of Bradford, Henderson said, “Ben is extraordinarily patient, but he’s also extraordinarily persistent. It’s not uncommon to get a call or two a day if he’s mulling over a case-related problem in his head.”
Tri-County CASA is a court appointed special advocate program that recruits, trains, and supervises trained community volunteers who attend court and speak on behalf of abused and neglected children in the courts of Rogers, Mayes, and Craig counties. CASA volunteers are assigned to deprived cases by a judge and have one goal in mind for each child to whom they are assigned: a safe, permanent, nurturing home — as quickly as possible.
Bradford, a resident of Catoosa, is retired and lives with his wife, Merleen. He worked in research, purchasing, technical sales, and training for the Dowell Division of Dow Chemical for 28 years. He has three adult children and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
He said he decided to get involved as a CASA volunteer to “pay back to society for the benefits I have received.”
At the age of 78, Bradford is more active than most people half his age. He takes walks, plays senior softball and pickle ball with his friends and eats right.
“When Ben’s had a bad day on a case or when he just needs a pick-me-up, he goes to a local restaurant where one of the children from one of his first cases works,” Henderson said. “He orders a cup of coffee, gets a hug, and talks to her about her life and what she’s been up to. It gives him satisfaction to know that she’s doing well and that she’s made it safely to adulthood.”
Henderson said Bradford cares deeply about children and isn’t one to give up easily.
“I’ve offered him plenty of opportunities to take a break, but Ben never gives up and he never quits,” Henderson said. “At the conclusion of one case, he always says, ‘Give me another one.’”
Bradford says the CASA volunteer role is extremely rewarding and fulfilling.
Tri-County CASA is looking for more volunteers like Bradford, particularly men. If you would like to make a difference in the life of a child, please call the CASA Office at (918) 343-1515. Tri-County CASA is a member agency of the Rogers County United Way.