When the perfectly coiffed CASA volunteer walked into the Friends of Children conference room, it lit up! Her smile, eagerness, and warmth made talking with her so easy—even when the topics were anything but easy to discuss. Kathie Stewart volunteered with the Hampshire/Franklin Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Program at Friends of Children for over 12 years. In an interview she gave to Paradise City Press in 2014, she was described as a “protector of vulnerable children” and remarked that being a CASA volunteer was “one of the most personally rewarding experiences I’ve ever had.”
Kathie taught middle-school students for more than 35 years before she retired. Her love of youth sports was clear, and she enjoyed (among many other things) refereeing swim meets. Cheering on young people was something she did well, and she was cherished for that at Friends of Children. Her belief that children and youth should be given opportunities to thrive - no matter how difficult their circumstances were - was admired by us all, and she served to inspire us on darker days.
We were heartbroken to learn that Kathie passed away suddenly on January 28, 2021. When news of her death was given to one young man for whom Kathie served as advocate for many years, he grew quiet, saying only “she was a nice lady.” After that, he could not utter any more.
Kathie’s family, of whom she was so proud, requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Friends of Children. With those funds (over $2,000 to date) and as an ongoing tribute to her memory, Friends of Children is creating Kathie’s Fund to provide support for extracurricular opportunities to school-aged children in our CASA Program. These are children who often don’t have the chance to participate in these activities that are so critical to their growth and development.
Kathie Stewart’s gifts of service as a CASA volunteer will echo through generations of young people. The creation of Kathie’s Fund stands as an ongoing tribute to a radiant spirit who is missed terribly and who gave significantly to the lives of young people.
If you are interested in contributing to Kathie’s Fund, please visit the Fund's donation page.