Why Did you become a CASA Advocate?
I became a CASA Advocate because I wanted to be able to make a difference in my community. I am inspired by the stories my parents tell of all the people who selflessly helped them when they came to America as refugees. I have done volunteer projects in the past, including environmental clean ups and providing medical care to the homeless community, but I wanted something more personal and meaningful. The CASA program is different from any other volunteer opportunity because it allows you to become intimately involved with one family. You really get to know the children, what is going on in their lives, and get to see the complexity of the case as it progresses throughout its course. No parent chooses to be in a position of losing their child, but they struggle with making good parental choices because of a multitude of factors including generational issues, past experiences, addiction, and psychological issues.
How do you balance volunteering with your career/personal life?
It’s all about priority setting and good time management. It’s not always easy being able to balance being a full-time student, working, and volunteering, but I make the time to stay involved in my case because I truly care about these families. I believe anyone with the desire to help a child in need can find the time out of a busy day to be there for them. It is possible!
What was a moment that you realized that you/CASAs do make a difference?
This moment came to me when I noticed that the child in my case began to trust and open up to me about his parents. My case is still ongoing so I don’t yet know what the outcome will be. I can only hope for a positive one, but for now, the two children are happy, healthy and in a safe and loving home and that’s what matters to me!
What advice would you have for new CASAs?
The hardest part of being a CASA volunteer is not being in control of what happens which can be very frustrating. However, being a CASA volunteer has been one of the most rewarding, inspiring, challenging things I’ve been able to be a part of. My advice to new CASAs is to remember why you became a CASA volunteer in the first place. Hold onto that purpose when things don’t turn out the way you expected or want them to. Remember the children and know that you are making a difference in their lives just by being present! Also, utilize your case manager and remember that you are never alone in your case.