I found out about CASA through a program with the Chamber of Commerce years ago called Leadership Missoula. That is when I heard about the many ways to give back to my community, and I was very impressed with CASA – representing kids in the courtroom who have been removed from their homes. Wow, I didn’t even know that existed before that time.
I have a special place in my heart for all kids, and I thought this sounded like a great organization because they provided a lot of training for their volunteers, and provided both support and more training even after you start taking cases. I am not from a background related to kids or social work or even the legal system in my work life. I am a software geek, so I really needed the training to feel comfortable doing this.
I joined CASA in the spring of 2015. I currently have 2 cases, one I have had since the spring of 2015. My 3 kids range from 2 ½ to 7. I decided to become a CASA at this point in my life because both of my own kids had left for college. I needed a way to fill that space in my life, but I had no idea how much I would receive from this opportunity in return. These kids are so amazing. They have been through more than I could have imagined, yet their ability to persevere is incredible. As a CASA, I am blessed to have the best job of everyone involved in my cases. I get to play with the kids; I am not balancing out my time with countless other cases, and I get to see the case through to the end, whether that be an adoption, reunion with a parent or guardian, or some other outcome. I hope to stay in touch with my CASA kids for life because they have touched my life so deeply.
I have learned so much with this opportunity as well. I am much more knowledgeable about neglected and abused children, the families affected by this, and the services available to help. I have a more accurate viewpoint on foster care, incarceration, people suffering with mental and dependency issues, the importance of strong communication, and how overworked and understaffed the personnel involved in these cases are, that is, the paid personnel. I love that I keep learning new things every day!
I enjoy meeting the parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and the foster families and seeing how they interact with the kids. I like seeing the progress made toward becoming better parents and relatives who are willing to go out of their way to maintain a strong bond with the kids as they go through these hard times, and I especially like seeing the kids become more self-confident, independent, and frankly, seeing them be as carefree as kids their age should be. How would you like to be taken from your home and everyone you know to be placed with strangers at the age of 4? These kids really are awesome, and the foster families I have met have been incredible as well. Anything I can do to keep things moving along in the case and make even half the impact on these kids’ lives as they have made on mine is well worth the time I take out of my life to do it. It doesn’t take that much time to have a big impact on a child’s life, and that is the best reward of all.