Sandy Spangler Gannett’s commitment to children and the juvenile justice system had its roots in her college years. Majoring in art and English, she also studied early childhood development, which steered her to a position as a part-time teacher in a preschool center, then to a full-time teaching position, and eventually to serving as center director, overseeing 165 children and 23 teachers.
Her involvement with the League of Women Voters and the Illinois Juvenile Court Watching Project led to Sandy’s role as one of five original volunteers with CASA Kane County (Illinois). As co-director of that program, she recruited and trained 40 volunteers and supervised 20 cases. She often raised funds for the program through appearances at local clubs and organizations, speaking about the difficulties of remaining emotionally neutral when serving children in terrible situations and how important it is to not give up.
Today, CASA Kane County comprises over 200 volunteers and serves more than 320 children. Sandy’s dedication to the CASA/GAL mission was contagious: She assisted law students from Northern Illinois University—whom she had trained as CASA volunteers—in founding CASA DeKalb County, which now serves more than 250 children.
An alumna of Kappa Alpha Theta’s Alpha Chapter at DePauw University, Sandy maintained connections with her Alpha sisters at regular potluck suppers. She passed away in March 2004.
“This is a very difficult volunteer position, and sometimes you get emotionally involved in it, but Sandy could usually stay out of the emotional conflict and untangle the messes.” —Anne Wray, former co-director of CASA Kane County, in a Chicago Tribune obituary of Sandy