Compassionate St. Augustine (CSA) is an all-volunteer non-profit organization that has spearheaded impactful and award-winning socially conscious initiatives that focus on criminal justice and prison reform, public art, underserved children, environmental justice, and multi-cultural and interfaith relations.
Besides presenting public lectures and panel discussions, CSA’s Compassion In Action Criminal Justice & Prison Reform initiative has instigated two ongoing transformative local programs. The first, underway since 2016, offers arts and behavior enhancement classes, programs, events, and training at Saint Johns Youth Academy, a high-risk residential facility in St. Augustine for up to 72 boys (13-20) from Florida. In 2019, CSA received the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs Diversity and Inclusion Award for their work at the Youth Academy.
The second was set in motion in 2018 when CSA’s leaders – in partnership with St. Paul AME Church and the City of St. Augustine – began exploring the creation of a community collaborative tasked to help bring Operation New Hope’s acclaimed Ready4Work anti-recidivism and job preparedness program to St. Johns County. Within a year, the new grassroots organization grew to include the St. Augustine Police Department, Flagler College, Flagler Hospital, and an ever-growing number of local businesses, non-profit social service organizations, faith communities, and concerned and compassionate citizens.
In March 2020, qualified men and women returning from incarceration in state prisons and the county jail began attending R4W classes at the Jacksonville organization’s first branch office in Lincolnville. Carefully vetted clients who complete all the requirements of the four-week soft skills training program are currently being offered placement locally in above minimum wage jobs.
Caren’s careers as investigative news and features journalist, editor, magazine writer, author, and Bridgebuilder conflict resolution & transformation consultant to non-profits and faith communities span 50 plus years. Currently, she serves on Flagler College’s Eugene & Cecile Usdin Judeo-Christian Lecture Series committee and OneJax’s Interfaith Council. She is also a founding board member of the Cyprian Center for Expressive Arts, a recipient of the 2018 Stetson Kennedy Foundation’s Fellow Man and Mother Earth Award, and a recipient of the 2016 ROWITA (Recognizing Outstanding Women In The Arts) Award.
Caren and her husband Rev.Ted Voorhees moved to St. Augustine in 2007. They live in Lincolnville.