Kathryn Nutting ’17: A Crusader for Worcester’s Children in Need

April 10th, 2017 by 

Kathryn Nutting '17 stands beside at desk inside the CASA office.
Kathryn Nutting '17 has been volunteering at CASA, a nonprofit committed to advocating for abused or neglected children, for several years. She recently applied for her certification as as a court appointed special advocate. Photo by: Tom Rettig

Child abuse and neglect is a tough problem that takes even tougher people to address it.

Kathryn Nutting ’17 is one of those people.

The psychology major, who has volunteered for years at CASA, a nonprofit committed to advocating for abused or neglected children, applied to become a court appointed special advocate as soon as she turned 21 — the earliest possible age volunteers are eligible for training and certification.

“This is a way for me to get involved with something that I care about but at a very personal, individual level,” she said.

CASA has been a part of Nutting’s life for as long as she can remember. Her mother, Lynn Barrieau, serves as the assistant director of the Worcester CASA office, which works in conjunction with the juvenile court system and the state’s Department of Children and Families. In recent years Nutting has volunteered at the office performing odd jobs, and she worked with the CASA golf tournament to raise funds for the organization’s operating budget.

In her new official capacity, CASA will assign Nutting a child who she will visit at least once a month. She’ll then advocate in court for the best interest of her charge, whether that be to remain at home with his or her parents, remain in foster care, or be placed with a different family member.

Nutting has her own definition of a CASA-certified volunteer: “It’s the one person who works in the best interest of the child,” she said. “This is all volunteer based, so (you know that) people are doing this out of the goodness of their heart and are really dedicated to it.”

That said, the challenges that come with the job are not for the faint of heart, Nutting acknowledged.

“I am making recommendations on behalf of someone else’s child and they are having to sit by while I make those recommendations,” she said.

But knowing that she’ll make a positive impact on that child’s makes it all worth it, she added.

“Sometimes you are able to make a connection with the child that they may not have otherwise,” she said.

This is not the only service-oriented project to which Nutting devotes her time. As a team captain for the varsity field hockey team last fall, Nutting helped run the “Crusaders for Kids” drive which collected books and school supplies, as well as a winter clothing drive for underprivileged children in Worcester. The team also participates in Big Brothers, Big Sisters.

Nutting credits the Holy Cross community and mission for her motivation to pursue the CASA certification. “I don’t know anyone at Holy Cross who is not involved at some level in a community service project,” she said.

Nutting plans to attend graduate school next semester for security and government studies and hopes to someday work for the FBI or elsewhere in government. Once she completes her education, she added, she would like to take in foster children.

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