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CASA Volunteers: What it means to change a child's story


CASA’s sole purpose is to be a friend, mentor, and advocate to the most vulnerable children in our community. This can only be done through the dedication of hundreds of volunteers who spend 1-4 hours per week visiting kids, talking with Family Court personnel and school staff, writing court reports, and recommending services.


The CASA model has been consistently evaluated as the most effective at advocating for children’s best interests and the most successful at procuring safe and permanent homes in the shortest time possible.


CASA volunteers (CASAs) are from all walks of life with different backgrounds and experiences. They range from college graduates to retired teachers. Last year, 207 volunteers became the voice for 551 abused/neglected children. Of those 207, over half work full time, 80 percent are women, 2 out of 3 are over the age of 50, and 100 percent have at least a high school education (86 percent graduated from college).


A current CASA stated: “I would hate to see a world without CASA volunteers. CASAs are in this because they want to help children, and I don’t know of another organization that can do what we do.”


Volunteering for CASA isn’t just beneficial for the organization and the children we serve. Volunteering has personal benefits. According to the Corporation for National & Community Service, volunteering builds and strengthens the volunteers’ social network. The connections made help cultivate new relationships and establishes deeper ties to the community.


Increased social interactions also have long-term effects. Psychology Today cited social interaction improves mental and physical health, lowers risk for depression and anxiety, and improves the immune system. AmeriCorps, a federal agency that connects volunteers with organizations, reported that people who volunteer over 100 hours a year are some of the healthiest. They live longer, have less disease, and have better over health.


Here are the steps to becoming a CASA volunteer:

  1. Attend our free, virtual information session. The 101 information session is held twice a month, every first and third Wednesday at 12 p.m. For more information or to register, visit www.casarr.org/casa101.

  2. CASA 101 attendees interested in pursuing the opportunity will receive a link to complete an online application.

  3. After completing an application, the potential volunteer will be contacted to schedule a one-on-one interview. Background checks and references will also be completed.

  4. All potential volunteers must undergo the virtual pre-service training. It is one day a week for five weeks.

The training program covers topics from the family court system to childhood trauma and cultural bias. Hear from recent CASA graduates on what motivated them to change children’s stories.


Why did you want to be a CASA?

Douglas Madison: I have enjoyed previous volunteer roles as a tutor to grade school students and a mentor to high school students. I thought that as a CASA volunteer, I would extend my reach into helping children.

Linda Pearce: I want to help the children that have no voices and help them to find a successful path to adulthood.

Kelly Barrett: There is such a need. I am not set up to be a foster parent, but this allows me to contribute in another way.

Cathy Hotkewicz: I am passionate about working with children and their families and committed to being an advocate for children.


What about CASA's mission or work inspires you?

Donna McMillian: What inspires me is that I am my brother’s keeper and that every little bit helps.

Monica Jones: The volunteers at CASA inspire me because everyone is giving of their time and talent expecting nothing in return.

Gary Fogle: Just knowing I can make a difference (hopefully for the better) in a child's life.


How would you explain CASA to others?

Barbara Hartman: I help children who are in a hard situation by working to make sure they get the love and support they need.

Jack Leshafft: We work with children and families who are having problems and work to make life better for them.

Jessica Taylor: A CASA is someone that is looking out for you and what is going to help make your life happy and healthy.


To start your volunteer journey, sign up for a CASA 101 at www.casarr.org/casa101. For questions, contact our Community Engagment Manager, Leah Nord at leah@casarr.org.


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