Westfield woman wins charitable award


Photo by CASA of Union County

Anne Bristow, Dream-Keeper award winner

Viggo Jabon and Emma Karp

On Nov. 8, Westfield resident Anne Bristow was honored for her commitment to the Court Appointed Special Advocates in Union County, where volunteers advocate for local children removed from their homes due to abuse, neglect or abandonment.

CASA presented Bristow with the Dream-Keeper Award for Outstanding Volunteerism at CASA’s seventh annual Foster the Dream Gala in Berkeley Heights.

Bristow was recognized for her various community contributions through CASA, but her advocacy for a transgender teen in need of support was what really made her stand out as a volunteer.

Bristow and the teen first met when Jade was 14 and living in a homeless shelter in Newark. Jade became homeless two months prior when her parents, who adopted her at age four, dropped her off at a shelter with all of her belongings in a bag.

In order to help Jade to the best of her ability, Bristow became educated in LGBTQ+ rights. Becoming a source of hope for the teen, she was there for Jade during times of hospitalization and was present at all court hearings.

To this day, Bristow is still supporting the teen. “We speak every day,” Bristow said in her Dream-Keeper acceptance speech, “and I’m ensuring she gets the services and support she needs, doing what any good parent would do.”

Bristow’s involvement in helping teens began years ago when she took in a WHS student whose family encountered difficulties. She gave the student a home, allowing him to complete his school year.

Inspired by CASA’s mission to assist struggling children in the foster system, Bristow began her journey of aiding other children dealing with similar heartbreaking challenges. With 20 years of various volunteerism under her belt, Bristow decided in 2016 to take on a leadership role and run her own team of volunteers with CASA.

Nothing prepares you for what you encounter along the way,” Bristow said. “Every day brings a different challenge and the opportunity to learn something new. That for me is one of the things that makes being a CASA [volunteer] such a rewarding experience.”