I work as a physical therapist here in the county. I am also a board member for Narrow Road, an international aid organization based here in Breckenridge.
I have a close friend that works for CASA; she initially recommended the volunteer program to me. I am really fortunate to be able to participate in of volunteer efforts in Uganda through Narrow Road, most often with children. However those trips are once a year at most, so I was looking to volunteer locally in the community on a more regular basis. The children we work with in Uganda usually have a history of abuse, neglect and trauma, which sadly is not surprising for a Third World country. What was surprising was the number of children here, where I live and work, that have that same history. I was shocked at what a tremendous need there is for child advocates in our county. I was volunteering in places that had an obvious need, but wasn't aware of the opportunities for helping children in my own community.
I have been volunteering with CASA for almost a year, I attended the training program in October of 2011 and was sworn in as a CASA in November of 2011. Since then I have worked on two separate cases in two different court systems.
Absolutely, these children have been abused or neglected through no fault of their own and it is crucial that they have a voice in the court system that decides their future. It is a huge honor to be able to advocate for this vulnerable population and be a part of the process that helps to bring them healing.
I have learned so much from the brave kids in my cases that show such strength and resilience. It is so inspiring to see their courage.
It is also so impactful to work with the social workers and guardian ad-litem attorneys that work tirelessly to protect the children in these situations. They have such a critical role and it is truly amazing to see how hard they work and how much support they provide these families.
I have also been so encouraged at how much one volunteer can make a difference. It sounds a little cliche, I know, but it still surprises me how much the court system listens to and values my input! I initially was pretty intimidated, thinking maybe I didn't have as much to offer to this process because I was just a volunteer. Quickly I learned that through visiting and observing the children, I was able to give so much helpful information to the social workers and make recommendations to the court that helped protect the children in my cases. It continues to remind me what an important job CASAs have and how badly they are needed by the children in abuse and neglect cases.