You may not even realize you’re what we are looking for and need. The Court Appointed Special Advocates of the Porter County CASA program come from all walks of life including professionals from the fields of education, social service, medical, engineering, IT, manufacturing, sales, management, finance, and legal, as well as students, and entrepreneurs. Most work full time, some are retired, some are raising families, and some do not have children. Some have been volunteering for years, but many are new. Some CASAs are quieter and more introverted, and others more gregarious and extroverted.
CASA volunteers respond to a need in the community that belongs at the top of any priority list. Though they may come from different backgrounds and be drawn to CASA work for varying reasons, they all share one thing in common: they are dedicated and caring individuals committed to advocating for children who have been abused and neglected. In their work as CASAs, they may share a skill set already used in their careers, or even use a gift for which they do not currently have an outlet. Either way, they participate in a meaningful volunteering opportunity like no other, and one that makes a positive impact on a child’s life.
Paris Bulson, a real estate broker and former news producer, noted, “At first I didn't realize I had such a passion for helping children…I didn't realize how powerful your voice can be when advocating for a child and that's a skill I didn't think I had. CASA as a whole makes me a better individual, and truly, it has been the best organization I have joined.”
Like Paris, others have stated that being a CASA allows them to use or develop skills and gifts that they don’t get to practice as much or at all in their professional life.
As a former special education teacher/consultant and current business manager of a counseling practice, Darlene Lawson believes that, “CASA allows me to have connections with children in a way that I miss now that my own children and their peers have grown into adults.”
Kathy Wszolek a software engineer finds in her line of work and in her volunteering it helps to be organized, detail-oriented, and comfortable working independently. But she also observed that her job doesn’t have a lot of social interaction outside of our work groups.
“As a CASA there is a lot of social interaction,” Wszolek said.
On the other hand, we’ve also found that volunteers sometimes gravitate to CASA because the mission compliments the professional work they do. Alec Farrell, a recent law school graduate noted that, “Being a law student and future attorney, I need to be able to objectively look at factual situations and make assessments by applying rules and common sense. This skill helps as a CASA volunteer, especially with young children, when I may be dealing with parents or guardians with conflicting stories, and I need to find the truth of the matter.”
Similarly, Susan Havens, an RN for fifty years, noted, “I decided to volunteer due to my background serving children and working with parents. I most enjoy working with the children, parents, and guardians and sorting out the complicated relationships to benefit the children's best interest.”
Linda Hornyak who works in the human resources stated, “I am used to helping people since I am responsible for the benefits at a local hospital. I am used to listening to people and keeping information confidential, so CASA was a good fit for me.”
One of our other CASAs, a biologist working as an environmental manager expressed, “Participating in the CASA Program is akin to environmental auditing; a practice I’ve engaged in throughout my career. Instead of interviewing and gathering facts on some legal environmental issue and then reporting ones findings to counsel or the business leadership, as a CASA we’re tasked with interviewing and gathering facts about the case we’ve been assigned.”
If you are interested in learning more about how you can donate your time and talent to advocating for a child’s needs and best interests, come to our CASA Volunteer Information Session on August 1, 2018 at 5:30 pm. The meeting will be held at Family & Youth Services Bureau located at 253 W. Lincolnway in Valparaiso. If you have any questions, please contact us at 219-464-9585 or email@example.com. You can also visit their website.