When I thought about what I can do in the community it felt overwhelming. However, when I considered what I could do for one person it seemed more reasonable.
Ten years ago, I heard a CASA presentation in a Cultural Diversity class at College of the Sequoias. I learned more about the mission and how one person could be the voice for a child. I realized that I could give my attention to one child or case. I could listen, they can confide in me, I could be someone they could talk to. I knew that I wanted to volunteer. As soon as my children were older, I contacted CASA. I knew this was an organization that I could volunteer and make a difference.
Rosemary shared she is a Navy brat. She was born in San Diego and left at the age of two and moved all over. Her family moved to California when she was 12 years old and eventually moved to Lemoore. She has five sisters and one brother. She has been married for 40 years and has 4 children and 6 grandchildren. Rosemary has worked in public education for over 16 years, she started working as a cook, and health aid and is currently working as an instructional aid in an elementary school.
Rosemary was assigned to a case with two siblings who were removed due to the parent’s drug use. She was able to build a positive working relationship with the parent and she arranged to visit the children on a weekly basis. She would pick them up from school, spend time with them and take them home. The children are very quiet and shy. It took some time for them to open up to Rosemary. However, by visiting with them on a regular basis Rosemary was able to build a rapport with them.
How have you helped your child? “An area that I have been the most involved has been in their education. Helping them to see the importance of school and encourage them to take it seriously. I made it a priority to attend school meetings, Individual Education Plan (IEP) meetings, parent teacher conferences, and open house. I met with their counselors, teachers, and speech pathologist.”
What is your proudest moment for your child? “When I first reviewed one of the children’s grades they had F’s and D’s. When I discussed it with them, they were really embarrassed by the grades. Since we met weekly, we reviewed them often and it started to bring a level of accountability. Over time the grades improved and soon the grades reflected their ability which was A’s, B’s and C’s. Education will continue to be an area that needs supervision and accountability. However, during our time they saw their potential and how putting in the work and effort makes a difference.”
What are three words that describe CASA and why?
“Hopeful: We are brought into a bad situation. We can help our children understand or see that it does not have to stay that way. Helpful: We can advocate for resources, follow-up on progress and check on the family. Caring: It all starts with caring, the rest will follow.”
What advice do you have for prospective advocates? “Research, talk, ask questions, and trust that there is a lot of support to help you.”
How would you summarize your experience as a volunteer? “A very positive experience. I learned a lot. I was able to see the situation from a different perspective and it was not as bad. I was able to see people willing to help in our community.”
Rosemary’s case closed in February 2020 and she shared she is both excited and nervous to start her next case. It will be a whole new experience and an opportunity to assist another youth.