Two local women will attempt to kayak the full 500 miles of shoreline of Smith Mountain Lake starting this Saturday.
They won’t be doing it for fun; rather, it’s for an important cause. Sue Gallagher, 70, and Jane Marvin, 60, will kayak around SML to raise awareness and funds for abused and neglected children at Southern Virginia Child Advocacy Center (SVCAC) in Rocky Mount. Gallagher said she became a volunteer court appointed special advocate (CASA) for SVCAC.
“When the judge in a child abuse case asks SVCAC for a CASA, one is assigned, and the judge issues a court order to that CASA in the child’s name, so they may investigate the case and advocate for the child,” she said. “Our goal is to keep these children safe. We write a report for the judge with our findings for every court hearing in the case. We also visit with the child at least monthly.”
Gallagher has done this fundraiser before. She said two years ago, she kayaked the lake by herself to raise funds and recruit volunteers for SVCAC. She ended up raising $46,000 and two people became CASA volunteers because they learned about SVCAC through Gallagher’s efforts.
One of those who were inspired by what Gallagher was doing was Marvin herself. Before moving here from San Francisco, California, Marvin had actually followed Gallagher’s efforts to kayak the full 500-plus mile shoreline of SML. When she moved across the country to SML, she met Gallagher kayaking one day, and that’s where Marvin being a volunteer CASA began.
“She had followed my adventure from California and asked me for some information on CASA,” said Gallagher. “The next time I saw her, she was already training to be a CASA.”
Marvin, who was a human resource executive for 35 years, said when she moved to SML, she wanted to get involved with helping the community. In her full year of being a CASA, Marvin has helped 16 children with five different families. She said the experience has been a blessing to her and she has learned a lot.
She also said that cases are starting to increase, and they will probably see a big spike right around the time the children come back to school, so she feels this fundraiser to spread awareness will be very crucial.
There’s more to this story in the current issue of the Smith Mountain Eagle newspaper. Pick up a copy or subscribe at www.smithmountaineagle.com/subscriber_services to view the full article in the print and/or e-edition version.