It's National Volunteer Week. It's a time to say thanks to our volunteers who work so hard for children that have experienced abuse or neglect. We truly couldn't carry out our mission without the Advocates who give their time and talents to represent the best interests of children who need it. But to really share the gratitude I feel for our Court Appointed Special Advocates, I need to step back and share a few stories...
A story about a sibling group that, because of a shortage of family foster homes, were separated into multiple homes. Their Court Appointed Special Advocate traveled between each of the homes meeting with them every few weeks. The CASA interviewed their family members, their teachers and other professionals who were helping them. The siblings were later reunited and able to live with a relative.
A story about two sisters who after being on an extended visit with their parents, didn't know who to tell when their mother was drinking and driving with them in the car. They texted their CASA and he took appropriate steps to secure their safety. Once they were safe, the CASA worked with the children's caseworker to develop a plan to support the sisters as they healed from the trauma of being separated from their parents. The sisters are now living with an extended family member.
A story about a young child who, because of a medical condition, was living in a nursing home. The visitor's logbook would show that over the span of many months, the CASA visited the child every week, sometimes more.
A story about a teenager who emancipated from foster care at the age of eighteen. A teenager who stayed in high school, juggling many responsibilities like a job and finding a safe place to stay. A teenager who, on graduation day, looked out into the crowd and saw the familiar face of his CASA Volunteer, cheering and beaming with pride.
These are just a few stories, but they offer a glimpse of the work that CASA Volunteers do and the difference they make. The argument could be made that CASA Volunteers are really superheroes in plain clothes. I can go for that. But it doesn't tell the whole story. The whole story is that CASA Volunteers do have special powers. Their special power is finding opportunities to build resilience in children. What I believe is that every child in the world actually IS an undercover superhero. CASA Volunteers help dust off those capes and, through resilience building, help a child reclaim their own special powers. That's the real secret of what makes a CASA Volunteer so special and so important for the children we support.
So, thank you! for giving your time, your energy and your heart to the Athens CASA/GAL Program and to all of the children we serve.
If you'd like to join the dozens of community members volunteering their time to advocate for the best interests of children, please consider applying now for our May Pre-Service Training Cohort. There are currently 30 children in Athens County waiting for someone like you to help.