2021 Advocate of the Year – Nominee #2

Advocate of the Year

Nominee #2: Gigi Clayton

If there is one thing Gigi knows how to do, it is how to show up and love the families with whom she works. Gigi has been an advocate for over four years, has served on four cases, and advocated for nine children of varying ages; Currently, she is on a case working with a teenager. No matter the child or case, Gigi does not fear taking on problems or challenges out of her comfort zone as is the case with the current child with whom she is working.

In her current case, Gigi has been a constant voice of support and reason. She is not afraid to have difficult, but necessary, conversations with the teen. Independence has been her child’s goal for a long time, and Gigi has tried to help her to understand what this means and guide her in achieving it safely. She has helped her fill out job applications, study for tests, and work on make-up work at school.

Gigi is a great example of caring unconditionally and showing up for someone even when they make it difficult. She continues to show up for her CASA child, even though her efforts to connect and help meet her child’s needs, such as clothing that has been lost between moves, are not always appreciated. Unfortunately, her child has runaway a few times, but that has not discouraged Gigi. No matter how complicated Gigi’s case gets, she does not shy away or complain. She continuously tries to find ways to connect with her and once the young lady returns, Gigi visits as soon as possible. When the child was placed with her grandmother, they contracted COVID. Gigi brought food to the caregivers so they did not have to worry about meals and could focus on getting better.

In all of her cases, Gigi makes it a point to visit her CASA children more often than is required no matter how far away they are placed.  She makes multiple visits in person to ensure the children felt supported and have their needs met. In the month of March alone, Gigi visited her child three times and helped see her off when she left for her new placement. Even though Gigi is a frequent visitor in person, she maintains weekly phone contact with her child and CPS, and keeps her CASA supervisor informed as well.

In addition to all of this, Gigi is also a very frequent visitor to the CASA office for lunch, community gatherings, and to check in with her supervisor for case updates. She loves to meet new CASAs, encourage them, and share her wisdom with them, and is known by all for her generosity and caring nature. She also has been on the planning committee for the Amplifying Advocacy Conference and has helped with other CASA programs and fundraisers.

With nearly five years under her belt, Gigi has become an outstanding advocate and friend. We are grateful for her service to CASA and honored to have her on our CASA team!