Jane Novick nominated Neal as a Dayton Daily News Community Gems for his work with CASA, where volunteers work with the juvenile court to advocate for the best interests of the children in their care.
Novick said in one case, Neal of Huber Heights spent five years advocating for a boy who was removed from his parents' custody.
“Mr. Neal was the one constant adult in the child's life and participated in assessing individuals that wanted to adopt the child,” Novick said. “The child was adopted and Mr. Neal is still a part of the child's life.”
Neal said he would write reports for the judge in juvenile court custody cases after interviewing the children, parents, foster care providers and social workers. He would advocate for the best interest of the child for the duration of the cases, which could take more than a year.
He originally got involved with the project because he knew someone who worked with the group who gave him some information. Neal initially told his wife he thought he would get involved after he retired from the Post Office. But instead, he decided the children needed help then.
That was 1995.
Neal said he was once told the average length of a CASA volunteer's tenure is about two years, which is typically the length of time the court case will take.
He said he stayed on because he felt he could remain impartial in cases and remove his emotions, though it was hard at times. He said the work can be emotionally exhausting.
“I think that's why I was able to stay around as long as I did is because I never allowed myself to really get emotionally involved,” he said.
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